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Full text of "The twelve-pound look : and other plays"

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PETE? ANS'SN^^ *"****- 

Illustrated bv F. D BEDFORD 

Illustrated by MABEL Lucm ATTWELU 

Illustrated by HUGH THOMSON. 

Illustrated by HUGH THOMSON. 
















In sets of Ten Volumes. 










Printed in 1921 










If quite convenient (as they say about cheques) you 
are to conceive that the scene is laid in your own 
house, and that Harry Sims is you. Perhaps the 
ornamentation of the house is a trifle ostentatious, 
but if you cavil at that we are willing to re-decorate : 
you don't get out of being Harry Sims on a mere 
matter of plush and dados. It pleases us to make 
him a city man, but (rather than lose you) he can be 
turned with a scrape of the pen into a K.C., fashion- 
able doctor, Secretary of State, or what you will. We 
conceive him of a pleasant rotundity with a thick red 
neck, but we shall waive that point if you know him 
to be thin. 

It is that day in your career when everything went 
wrong just when everything seemed to be superlatively 

In Harry's case it was a woman who did the 
mischief. She came to him in his great hour and told 
him -she did not admire him. Of course he turned 
her out of the house and was soon himself again, but 


it spoilt the morning for him. This is the subject 
of the play, and quite enough too. 

Harry is to receive the honour of knighthood in 
a few days, and we discover him in the sumptuous 
4 snuggery ' of his home in Kensington (or is it 
Westminster?), rehearsing the ceremony with his 
wife. They have been at it all the morning, a pleasing 
occupation. Mrs. Sims (as we may call her for the 
last time, as it were, and strictly as a good-natured 
joke) is wearing her presentation gown, and personates 
the august one who is about to dub her Harry knight. 
She is seated regally. Her jewelled shoulders pro- 
claim aloud her husband's generosity. She must 
be an extraordinarily proud and happy woman, yet 
she has a drawn face and shrinking ways as if there 
were some one near her of whom she is afraid. She 
claps her hands, as the signal to Harry. He enters 
bowing, and with a graceful swerve of the leg. He is 
only partly in costume, the sword and the real stockings 
not having arrived yet. With a gliding motion that 
is only delayed while one leg makes up on the other, 
he reaches his wife, and, going on one knee, raises 
her hand superbly to his lips. She taps him on the 
shoulder with a paper-knife and says huskily, ' Rise, 
Sir Harry. 1 He rises, bows, and glides about the 
room, going on his knees to various articles of furniture, 


and rising from each a knight. It is a radiant 
domestic scene, and Harry is as dignified as if he 
knew that royalty was rehearsing it at the other end. 

SIR HARRY (complacently). Did that seem all 
right, eh ? 

LADY SIMS (much relieved). I think perfect. 

SIR HARRY. But was it dignified ? 

LADY SIMS. Oh, very. And it will be still 
more so when you have the sword. 

SIR HARRY. The sword will lend it an air. 
There are really the five moments (suiting 
the action to the word) the glide the dip; the 
kiss the tap and you back out a knight. 
It's short, but it's a very beautiful ceremony. 
(Kindly) Anything you can suggest ? 

LADY SIMS. No oh no. (Nervously, seeing 
him pause to kiss the tassel of a cushion) You 
don't think you have practised till you know 
what to do almost too well ? 

(He has been in a blissful temper, but such 
niggling criticism would try any man.) 

SIR HARRY. I do not. Don't talk nonsense. 
Wait till your opinion is asked for. 

LADY SIMS (abashed). I 'm sorry, Harry. (A 


perfect butler appears and presents a card.) ' The 
Flora Type-Writing Agency.' 

SIR HARRY. Ah, yes. I telephoned them to 
send some one. A woman, I suppose, Tombes ? 

TOMBES. Yes, Sir Harry. 

SIR HARRY. Show her in here. (He has very 
lately become a stickler for etiquette.) And, 
Tombes, strictly speaking, you know, I am not 
Sir Harry till Thursday. 

TOMBES. Beg pardon, sir, but it is such a 
satisfaction to us. 

SIR HARRY (good-naturedly). Ah, they like 
it downstairs, do they ? 

TOMBES (unbending). Especially the females, 
Sir Harry. 

SIR HARRY. Exactly. You can show her in, 
Tombes. (The butler departs on his mighty 
task.) You can tell the woman what she is 
wanted for, Emmy, while I change. (He is too 
modest to boast about himself, and prefers to keep 
a wife in the house for that purpose.) You can 
tell her the sort of things about me that will 
come better from you. (Smiling happily) You 
heard what Tombes said, ' Especially the 


females.' And he is right. Success ! The 
women like it even better than the men. And 
rightly. For they share. You share, Lady 
Sims. Not a woman will see that gown without 
being sick with envy of it. I know them. Have 
all our lady friends in to see it. It will make 
them ill for a week. 

(These sentiments carry him off light- 
heartedly, and presently the disturbing 
element is shown in. She is a mere 
typist, dressed in uncommonly good taste, 
but at contemptibly small expense, and 
she is carrying her typewriter in a 
friendly way rather than as a badge of 
slavery, as of course it is. Her eye is 
clear ; and in odd contrast to LADY SIMS, 
she is self-reliant and serene.) 
KATE (respectfully, but she should have waited 
to be spoken to). Good morning, madam. 

LADY SIMS (in her nervous way, and scarcely 
noticing that the typist is a little too ready with her 
tongue). Good morning. (As a first impres- 
sion she rather likes the woman, and the woman, 
though it is scarcely worth mentioning, rather 


likes her. LADY SIMS has a maid for buttoning 
and unbuttoning her, and probably another for 
waiting on the maid, and she gazes with a little 
envy perhaps at a woman who does things for 
herself.) Is that the type-writing machine ? 

KATE (who is getting it ready for use). Yes 
(not 4 Yes, madam? as it ought to be). I suppose 
if I am to work here I may take this off. I get 
on better without it. (She is referring to her hat.) 

LADY SIMS. Certainly. (But the hat is already 
off.) I ought to apologise for my gown. I am 
to be presented this week, and I was trying it on. 
(Her tone is not really apologetic. She is rather 
clinging to, the glory of her gown, wistfully, as if 
not absolutely certain, you know, thai it is a glory.) 

KATE. It is beautiful, if I may presume to say 
so. (She frankly admires it. She probably has 
a best, and a second best of her own : that sort of 

LADY SIMS (with a flush of pride in the gown). 
Yes, it is very beautiful. (The beauty of it gives 
her courage.) Sit down, please. 

KATE (the sort of woman who would have sat 
down in any case). I suppose it is some copying 


you want done ? I got no particulars. I was 
told to come to this address, but that was all. 

LADY SIMS (almost with the humility of a 
servant). Oh, it is not work for me, it is for my 
husband, and what he needs is not exactly 
copying. (Swelling, for she is proud of HARRY.) 
He wants a number of letters answered hun- 
dreds of them letters and telegrams of con- 

KATE (as if it were all in the day's work). Yes ? 

LADY SIMS (remembering that HARRY expects 
every wife to do her duty). My husband is a 
remarkable man. He is about to be knighted. 
(Pause, but KATE does not fall to the floor.) He 
is to be knighted for his services to (on reflec- 
tion) for his services. (She is conscious that she 
is not doing HARRY justice.) He can explain it 
so much better than I can. 

KATE (in her business-like way). And I am 
to answer the congratulations ? 

LADY SIMS (afraid that it will be a hard task). 

KATE (blithely). It is work I have had some 
experience of. (She proceeds to type.) 


LADY SIMS. But you can't begin till you 
know what he wants to say. 

KATE. Only a specimen letter. Won't it be 
the usual thing ? 

LADY SIMS (to whom this is a new idea). Is 
there a usual thing ? 
KATE. Oh, yes. 

(She continues to type, and LADY SIMS, 
half-mesmerised, gazes at her nimble 
fingers. The useless woman watches the 
useful one 9 and she sighs, she could not 
tell why.) 

LADY SIMS. How quickly you do it. It must 
be delightful to be able to do something, and to 
do it well. 

KATE (thankfully). Yes, it is delightful. 
LADY SIMS (again remembering the source of all 
her greatness). But, excuse me, I don't think 
that will be any use. My husband wants me 
to explain to you that his is an exceptional case. 
He did not try to get this honour in any way. 

It was a complete surprise to him 

KATE (who is a practical Kate and no dealer in 
sarcasm). That is what I have written. 


LADY SIMS (in whom sarcasm would meet a 
dead wall). But how could you know ? 

KATE. I only guessed. 

LADY SIMS. Is that the usual thing ? 

KATE. Oh, yes. 

LADY SIMS. They don't try to get it ? 

KATE. I don't know. That is what we are 
told to say in the letters. 

(To her at present the only important thing 
about the letters is that they are ten shillings 
the hundred.) 

LADY SIMS (returning to surer ground). I 
should explain that my husband is not a man 
who cares for honours. So long as he does his 

KATE. Yes, I have been putting that in. 

LADY SIMS. Have you ? But he particularly 
wants it to be known that he would have de- 
clined a title were it not 

KATE. I have got it here. 

LADY SIMS. What have you got ? 

KATE (reading). 4 Indeed I would have asked 
to be allowed to decline had it not been that 
I want to please my wife.' 


LADY SIMS (heavily). But how could you know 
it was that ? 
KATE. Is it ? 

LADY SIMS (who after all is the one with the right 
to ask questions). Do they all accept it for 
that reason ? 

KATE. That is what we are told to say in the 

LADY SIMS (thoughtlessly). It is quite as if 
you knew my husband. 

KATE. I assure you, I don't even know his 

LADY SIMS (suddenly showing that she knows 
him). Oh, he wouldn't like that. 

(And it is here that HARRY re-enters in his 
city garments, looking so gay, feeling so 
jolly that we bleed for him. However, the 
annoying KATHERINE is to get a shock also.) 
LADY SIMS. This is the lady, Harry. 
SIR HARRY (shooting his cuffs). Yes, yes. 
Good morning, my dear. 

(Then they see each other, and their mouths 
open, but not for words. After the first 
surprise KATE seems to find some humour 


in the situation, but HARRY lowers like a 
LADY SIMS (who has seen nothing). I have been 

trying to explain to her 

SIR HARRY. Eh what ? (He controls him- 
self.) Leave it to me, Emmy ; I '11 attend 
to her. 

(LADY SIMS goes, with a dread fear that 
somehow she has vexed her lord, and then 
HARRY attends to the intruder.) 
SIR HARRY (with concentrated scorn). You ! 
KATE (as if agreeing with him). Yes, it 's 

SIR HARRY. The shamelessness of your daring 
to come here. 

KATE. Believe me, it is not less a surprise to 
me than it is to you. I was sent here in the 
ordinary way of business. I was given only 
the number of the house. I was not told 
the name. 

SIR HARRY (withering her). The ordinary way 
of business ! This is what you have fallen to 
a typist ! 

KATE (unwithered). Think of it. 


SIR HARRY. After going through worse straits, 
I '11 be bound. 

KATE (with some grim memories). Much worse 

SIR HARRY (alas, laughing coarsely). My con- 

KATE. Thank you, Harry. 

SIR HARRY (who is annoyed, as any man would 
be, not to find her abject). Eh ? What was that 
you called me, madam ? 

KATE. Isn't it Harry ? On my soul, \I 
almost forget. 

SIR HARRY. It isn't Harry to you. My name 
is Sims, if you please. 

KATE. Yes, I had not forgotten that. It was 
my name, too, you see. 

SIR HARRY (in his best manner). It was your 
name till you forfeited the right to bear it. 

KATE. Exactly. 

SIR HARRY (gloating). I was furious to find 
you here, but on second thoughts it pleases me. 
(From the depths of his moral nature) There is 
a grim justice in this. 

KATE (sympathetically). Tell me ? 


SIR HARRY. Do you know what you were 
brought here to do ? 

KATE. I have just been learning. You have 
been made a knight, and I was summoned to 
answer the messages of congratulation. 

SIR HARRY. That 's it, that 's it. You come 
on this day as my servant ! 

KATE. I, who might have been Lady Sims. 
SIR HARRY. And you are her typist instead. 
And she has four men-servants. Oh, I am glad 
you saw her in her presentation gown. 

KATE. I wonder if she would let me do her 
washing, Sir Harry ? 

(Her want of taste disgusts him.) 
SIR HARRY (with dignity). You can go. The 
mere thought that only a few flights of stairs 
separates such as you from my innocent chil- 

(He will never know why a new light has 
come into her face.) 
KATE (slowly). You have children ? 
SIR HARRY (inflated). Two. 

(He wonders why she is so long in answer- 


KATE (resorting to impertinence), Such a nice 

SIR HARRY (with an extra turn of the screw). 
Both boys. 

KATE. Successful in everything. Are they 
like you, Sir Harry ? 

SIR HARRY (expanding). They are very like me. 

KATE. That 's nice. 

(Even on such a subject as this she can be 

SIR HARRY. Will you please to go. 

KATE. Heigho ! What shall I say to my 
employer ? 

SIR HARRY. That is no affair of mine. 

KATE. What will you say to Lady Sims ? 

SIR HARRY. I flatter myself that whatever 
I say, Lady Sims will accept without comment. 
(She smiles, heaven knows why, unless her 
next remark explains it.) 

KATE. Still the same Harry. 

SIR HARRY. What do you mean ? 

KATE. Only that you have the old confidence 
in your profound knowledge of the sex. 

SIR HARRY (beginning to think as little of her 


intellect as of her morals). I suppose I know 
my wife. 

KATE (hopelessly dense). I suppose so. I was 
only remembering that you used to think you 
knew her in the days when I was the lady. (He 
is merely wasting his time on her, and he indicates 
the door. She is not sufficiently the lady to retire 
worsted.) Well, good-bye, Sir Harry. Won't 
you ring, and the four men-servants will show 
me out ? 

(But he hesitates.) 

SIR HARRY (in spite of himself). As you are 
here, there is something I want to get out of 
you. (Wishing he could ask it less eagerly) 
Tell me, who was the man ? 

(The strange woman it is evident now that 
she has always been strange to him smiles 

KATE. You never found out ? 

SIR HARRY. I could never be sure. 

KATE (reflectively). I thought that would 
worry you. 

SIR HARRY (sneering). It 's plain that he soon 
left you. 



KATE. Very soon. 

SIR HARRY. As I could have told you. (But 
still she surveys him with the smile of Mona Lisa. 
The badgered man has to entreat.) Who was 
he ? It was fourteen years ago, and cannot 
matter to any of us now. Kate, tell me who 
he was ? 

(It is his first youthful moment, and 
perhaps because of that she does not wish 
to hurt him.) 

KATE (shaking a motherly head). Better not 

SIR HARRY. I do ask. Tell me. 

KATE. It is kinder not to tell you. 

SIR HARRY (violently). Then, by James, it 
was one of my own pals. Was it Bernard 
Roche ? (She shakes her head.) It may have 
been some one who comes to my house still. 
|KATE. I think not. (Reflecting) Fourteen 
years ! You found my letter that night when 
you went home ? 

SIR HARRY (impatient). Yes. 

KATE. I propped it against the decanters. 
I thought you would be sure to see it there. It 


was a room not unlike this, and the furniture 
was arranged in the same attractive way. How 
it all comes back to me. Don't you see me, 
Harry, in hat and cloak, putting the letter there, 
taking a last look round, and then stealing out 
into the night to meet 

SIR HARRY. Whom ? 

KATE. Him. Hours pass, no sound in the 
room but the tick-tack of the clock, and then 
about midnight you return alone. You take 

SIR HARRY (gruffly). I wasn't alone. 

KATE (the picture spoilt). No ? oh. (Plain- 
tively) Here have I all these years been conceiving 
it wrongly. (She studies his face.) I believe 
something interesting happened ? 

SIR HARRY (growling). Something confound- 
edly annoying. 

KATE (coaxing). Do tell me. 

SIR HARRY. We won't go into that. Who 
was the man ? Surely a husband has a right 
to know with whom his wife bolted. 

KATE (who is detestably ready with her tongue). 
Surely the wife has a right to know how he took 
it. (The woman's love of bargaining comes to her 


aid.) A fair exchange. You tell me what 
happened, and I will tell you who he was. 

SIR HARRY. You will ? Very well. (It is 
the first point on which they have agreed, and, 
forgetting himself, he takes a place beside her on 
the fire-seat. He is thinking only of what he is to 
tell her, but she, woman-like, is conscious of their 

KATE (tastelessly). Quite like old times. (He 
moves away from her indignantly.) Go on, 

SIR HARRY (who has a manful shrinking from 
saying anything that is to his disadvantage). 
Well, as you know, I was dining at the club 
that night. 

KATE. Yes. 

SIR HARRY. Jack Lamb drove me home. 
Mabbett Green was with us, and I asked them 
to come in for a few minutes. 

KATE. Jack Lamb, Mabbett Green ? I think 
I remember them. Jack was in Parliament. 

SIR HARRY. No, that was Mabbett. They 
came into the house with me and (with sudden 
horror) was it him ? 


KATE (bewildered). Who ? 

SIR HARRY. Mabbett ? 

KATE. What ? 

SIR HARRY. The man ? 

KATE. What man ? (Understanding) Oh no. 
I thought you said he came into the house with 

SIR HARRY. It might have been a blind. 

KATE. Well, it wasn't. Go on. 

SIR HARRY. They came in to finish a talk we 
had been having at the club. 

KATE. An interesting talk, evidently. 

SIR HARRY. The papers had been full that 
evening of the elopement of some countess 
woman with a fiddler. What was her name ? 

KATE. Does it matter ? 

SIR HARRY. No. (Thus ends the countess.) 
We had been discussing the thing and (he pulls 
a wry face) and I had been rather warm 

KATE (with horrid relish). I begin to see. 
You had been saying it served the husband right, 
that the man who could not look after his wife 
deserved to lose her. It was one of your favour- 
ite subjects. Oh* Harry, say it was that ! 


SIR HARRY (sourly). It may have been some- 
thing like that. 

KATE. And all the time the letter was there, 
waiting ; and none of you knew except the 
clock. Harry, it is sweet of you to tell me. 
(His face is not sweet. The illiterate woman has 
used the wrong adjective.) I forget what I said 
precisely in the letter. 

SIR HARRY (pulverising her). So do I. But 
I have it still. 

KATE (not pulverised). Do let me see it 
again. (She has observed his eye wandering to 
the desk.) 

SIR HARRY. You are welcome to it as a gift. 
(The fateful letter, a poor little dead thing, is 
brought to light from a locked drawer.) 

KATE (taking it). Yes, this is it. Harry, 
how you did crumple it ! (She reads, not with- 
out curiosity.) ' Dear husband I call you that 
for the last time I am off. I am what you 
call making a bolt of it. I won't try to excuse 
myself nor to explain, for you would not accept 
the excuses nor understand the explanation. 
It will be a little shock to you, but only to your 


pride ; what will astound you is that any woman 
could be such a fool as to leave such a man as 
you. I am taking nothing with me that belongs 
to you. May you be very happy. Your un- 
grateful KATE. P.S. You need not try to 
find out who he is. You will try, but you 
won't succeed.' (She folds the nasty little thing 
up.) I may really have it for my very own ? 

SIR HARRY. You really may. 

KATE (impudently). If you would care for 
a typed copy ? 

SIR HARRY (in a voice with which he used to 
frighten his grandmother). None of your sauce. 
(Wincing) I had to let them see it in the end. 

KATE. I can picture Jack Lamb eating it. 

SIR HARRY. A penniless parson's daughter. 

KATE. That is all I was. 

SIR HARRY. We searched for the two of 
you high and low. 

KATE. Private detectives ? 

SIR HARRY. They couldn't get on the track 
of you. 

KATE (smiling). No ? 

SIR HARRY. But at last the courts let me 


serve the papers by advertisement on a man 
unknown, and I got my freedom. 

KATE. So I saw. It was the last I heard of 

SIR HARRY (each word a blow for her). And I 
married again just as soon as ever I could. 

KATE. They say that is always a compli- 
ment to the first wife. 

SIR HARRY (violently). I showed them. 

KATE. You soon let them see that if one 
woman was a fool, you still had the pick of the 
basket to choose from. 

SIR HARRY. By James, I did. 

KATE (bringing him to earth again). But still, 
you wondered who he was. 

SIR HARRY. I suspected everybody even 
my pals. I felt like jumping at their throats 
and crying, ' It 's you ! } 

KATE. You had been so admirable to me, 
an instinct told you that I was sure to choose 
another of the same. 

SIR HARRY. I thought, it can't be money, 
so it must be looks. Some dolly face. (He 
stares at her in perplexity.) He must have had 


something wonderful about him to make you 
willing to give up all that you had with me. 

KATE (as if he was the stupid one). Poor 

SIR HARRY. And it couldn't have been 
going on for long, for I would have noticed the 
change in you. 

KATE. Would you ? 

SIR HARRY. I knew you so well. 

KATE. You amazing man. 

SIR HARRY. So who was he ? Out with it. 

KATE. You are determined to know ? 

SIR HARRY. Your promise. You gave your 

KATE. If I must (She is the villain of 
the piece, but it must be conceded that in this matter 
she is reluctant to pain him.) I am sorry I pro- 
mised. (Looking at him steadily.) There was 
no one, Harry ; no one at all. 

SIR HARRY (rising). If you think you can 
play with me 

KATE. I told you that you wouldn't like it. 

SIR HARRY (rasping). It is unbelievable. 

KATE. I suppose it is ; but it is true. 


SIR HARRY. Your letter itself gives you the 

KATE. That was intentional. I saw that 
if the truth were known you might have a 
difficulty in getting your freedom ; and as I 
was getting mine it seemed fair that you should 
have yours also. So I wrote my good-bye in 
words that would be taken to mean what you 
thought they meant, and I knew the law would 
back you in your opinion. For the law, like you, 
Harry, has a profound understanding of women. 

SIR HARRY (trying to straighten himself). I 
don't believe you yet. 

KATE (looking not unkindly into the soul of 
this man). Perhaps that is the best way to 
take it. It is less unflattering than the truth. 
But you were the only one. (Summing up her 
life.) You sufficed. 

SIR HARRY. Then what mad impulse 

KATE. It was no impulse, Harry. I had 
thought it out for a year. 

SIR HARRY. A year ? (dazed). One would 
think to hear you that I hadn't been a good 
husband to you. 


KATE (with a sad smile). You were a good 
husband according to your lights. 

SIR HARRY (stoutly). I think so. 

KATE. And a moral man, and chatty, and 
quite the philanthropist. 

SIR HARRY (on sure ground). All women 
envied you. 

KATE. How you loved me to be envied. 

SIR HARRY. I swaddled you in luxury. 

KATE (making her great revelation). That 
was it. 

SIR HARRY (blankly). What ? 

KATE (who can be serene because it is all over). 
How you beamed at me when I sat at the head 
of your fat dinners in my fat jewellery, sur- 
rounded by our fat friends. 

SIR HARRY (aggrieved). They weren't so fat. 

KATE (a side issue). All except those who 
were so thin. Have you ever noticed, Harry, 
that many jewels make women either in- 
credibly fat or incredibly thin ? 

SIR HARRY (shouting). I have not. (Is it 
worth while to argue with her any longer?) We 
had all the most interesting society of the day. 


It wasn't only business men. There were 
politicians, painters, writers 

KATE. Only the glorious, dazzling successes. 
Oh, the fat talk while we ate too much about 
who had made a hit and who was slipping back, 
and what the noo house cost and the noo motor 
and the gold soup-plates, and who was to be 
the noo knight. 

SIB HARRY (who it will be observed is unanswer- 
able from first to last). Was anybody getting on 
better than me, and consequently you ? 

KATE. Consequently me ! Oh, Harry, you 
and your sublime religion. 

SIR HARRY (honest heart). My religion ? I 
never was one to talk about religion, but 

KATE. Pooh, Harry, you don't even know 
what your religion was and is and will be till 
the day of your expensive funeral. (And here 
is the lesson that life has taught her.) One's 
religion is whatever he is most interested in, 
and yours is Success. 

SIR HARRY (quoting from his morning paper). 
Ambition it is the last infirmity of noble minds. 

KATE. Noble minds I 


SIE HARRY (at last grasping what she is talking 
about). You are not saying that you left me 
because of my success ? 

KATE. Yes, that was it. (And now she 
stands revealed to him.) I couldn't endure it. 
If a failure had come now and then but your 
success was suffocating me. (She is rigid with 
emotion.) The passionate craving I had to be 
done with it, to find myself among people who 
had not got on. 

SIR HARRY (with proper spirit). There are 
plenty of them. 

KATE. There were none in our set. When 
they began to go down-hill they rolled out of 
our sight. 

SIR HARRY (clinching it). I tell you I am 
worth a quarter of a million. 

KATE (unabashed). That is what you are 
worth to yourself. I '11 tell you what you are 
worth to me : exactly twelve pounds. For I 
made up my mind that I could launch myself 
on the world alone if I first proved my mettle 
by earning twelve pounds ; and as soon as I 
had earned it I left you. 


SIR HARRY (in the scales). Twelve pounds ! 

KATE. That is your value to a woman. If 
she can't make it she has to stick to you. 

SIR HARRY (remembering perhaps a rectory 
garden). You valued me at more than that 
when you married me. 

KATE (seeing it also). Ah, I didn't know you 
then. If only you had been a man, Harry. 

SIR HARRY. A man ? What do you mean 
by a man ? 

KATE (leaving the garden), Haven't you 
heard of them ? They are something fine ; 
and every woman is loath to admit to herself 
that her husband is not one. When she marries, 
even though she has been a very trivial person, 
there is in her some vague stirring toward a 
worthy life, as well as a fear of her capacity 
for evil. She knows her chance lies in him. 
If there is something good in him, what is good 
in her finds it, and they join forces against the 
baser parts. So I didn't give you up willingly, 
Harry. I invented all sorts of theories to 
explain you. Your hardness I said it was a 
fine want of mawkishness. Your coarseness 


I said it goes with strength. Your contempt 
for the weak I called it virility. Your want 
of ideals was clear-sightedness. Your ignoble 
views of women I tried to think them funny. 
Oh, I clung to you to save myself. But I had 
to let go ; you had only the one quality, Harry, 
success ; you had it so strong that it swallowed 
all the others. 

SIR HARRY (not to be diverted from the main 
issue). How did you earn that twelve pounds ? 

KATE. It took me nearly six months ; but 
I earned it fairly. (She presses her hand on the 
typewriter as lovingly as many a woman has 
pressed a rose.) I learned this. I hired it and 
taught myself. I got some work through a 
friend, and with my first twelve pounds I paid 
for my machine. Then I considered that I 
was free to go, and I went. 

SIR HARRY. All this going on in my house 
while you were living in the lap of luxury ! 
(She nods.) By God, you were determined. 

KATE (briefly). By God, I was. 

SIR HARRY (staring). How you must have 
hated me. 


KATE (smiling at the childish word). Not a 
bit after I saw that there was a way out. 
From that hour you amused me, Harry ; I 
was even sorry for you, for I saw that you 
couldn't help yourself. Success is just a fatal 

SIR HARRY. Oh, thank you. 

KATE (thinking, dear friends in front, of you 
and me perhaps). Yes, and some of your most 
successful friends knew it. One or two of them 
used to look very sad at times, as if they thought 
they might have come to something if they 
hadn't got on. 

SIR HARRY (who has a horror of sacrilege). The 
battered crew you live among now what are 
they but folk who have tried to succeed and 
failed ? 

KATE. That 's it ; they try, but they fail. 

SIR HARRY. And always will fail. 

KATE. Always. Poor souls I say of them. 
Poor soul they say of me. It keeps us human. 
That is why I never tire of them. 

SIR HARRY (comprehensively). Bah ! Kate, 
I tell you I '11 be worth half a million yet. 


KATE. I 'm sure you will. You 're getting 
stout, Harry. 

SIR HARRY. No, I 'm not. 

KATE. What was the name of that fat old 
fellow who used to fall asleep at our dinner- 
parties ? 

SIR HARRY. If you mean Sir William 

KATE. That was the man. Sir William was 
to me a perfect picture of the grand success. 
He had got on so well that he was very, very 
stout, and when he sat on a chair it was thus 
(her hands meeting in front of her) as if he were 
holding his success together. That is what 
you are working for, Harry. You will have that 
and the half million about the same time. 

SIR HARRY (who has surely been very patient). 
Will you please to leave my house. 

KATE (putting on her gloves, soiled things). 
But don't let us part in anger. How do you 
think I am looking, Harry, compared to the 
dull, inert thing that used to roll round in your 
padded carriages ? 

SIR HARRY (in masterly fashion). I forget 


what you were like. I 'm very sure you never 
could have held a candle to the present Lady 

KATE. That is a picture of her, is it not ? 

SIR HARRY (seizing his chance again). In 
her wedding-gown. Painted by an R.A. 

KATE (wickedly). A knight ? 

SIR HARRY (deceived). Yes. 

KATE (who likes LADY SIMS : a piece of pre- 
sumption on her part). It is a very pretty face. 

SIR HARRY (with the pride of possession). 
Acknowledged to be a beauty everywhere. 

KATE. There is a merry look in the eyes, 
and character in the chin. 

SIR HARRY (like an auctioneer). Noted for 
her wit. 

KATE. All her life before her when that was 
painted. It is a spirituelle face too. (Suddenly 
she turns on him with anger, for the first and only 
time in the play.) Oh, Harry, you brute ! 

SIR HARRY (staggered). Eh ? What ? 

KATE. That dear creature capable of becom- 
ing a noble wife and mother she is the spirit- 
less woman of no account that I saw here a 


few minutes ago. I forgive you for myself, 
for I escaped, but that poor lost soul, oh, 
Harry, Harry. 

SIR HARRY (waving her to the door). I '11 
thank you If ever there was a woman 
proud of her husband and happy in her married 
life, that woman is Lady Sims. 

KATE. I wonder. 

SIR HARRY. Then you needn't wonder. 

KATE (slowly). If I was a husband it is my 
advice to all of them I would often watch my 
wife quietly to see whether the twelve-pound 
look was not coming into her eyes. Two boys, 
did you say, and both like you ? 

SIR HARRY. What is that to you ? 

KATE (with glistening eyes). I was only think- 
ing that somewhere there are two little girls 
who, when they grow up the dear, pretty 
girls who are all meant for the men that don't 
get on ! Well, good-bye, Sir Harry. 

SIR HARRY (showing a little human weakness, 
it is to be feared). Say first that you 're sorry. 

KATE. For what ? 

SIR HARRY. That you left me. Say you 


regret it bitterly. You. know you do. (She 
smiles and shakes her head. He is pettish. He 
makes a terrible announcement.) You have 
spoilt the day for me. 

KATE (to hearten him). I am sorry for that ; 
but it is only a pin -prick, Harry. I suppose 
it is a little jarring in the moment of your 
triumph to find that there is one old friend 
who does not think you a success ; but you 
will soon forget it. Who cares what a typist 
thinks ? 

SIR HARRY (heartened). Nobody. A typist 
at eighteen shillings a week ! 

KATE (proudly). Not a bit of it, Harry. I 
double that. 

SIR HARRY (neatly). Magnificent ! 

(There is a timid knock at the door.) 

LADY SIMS. May I come in ? 

SIR HARRY (rather appealingly). It is Lady 

KATE. I won't tell. She is afraid to come 
into her husband's room without knocking ! 

SIR HARRY. She is not. (Uxoriously) Come 
in, dearest. (Dearest enters carrying the sword. 


She might have had the sense not to bring it in 
while this annoying person is here.) 

LADY SIMS (thinking she has brought her 
welcome with her). Harry, the sword has come. 
SIB HARRY (who will dote on it presently). Oh, 
all right. 

LADY SIMS. But I thought you were so 
eager to practise with it. 

(The person smiles at this. He wishes he 
had not looked to see if she was smiling.) 
SIR HARRY (sharply). Put it down. 

(LADY SIMS flushes a little as she lays the 
sword aside.) 

KATE (with her confounded courtesy). It is a 
beautiful sword, if I may say so. 
LADY SIMS (helped). Yes. 

(The person thinks she can put him in the 
wrong, does she ? He '// show her.) 
SIR HARRY (with one eye on KATE). Emmy, 
the one thing your neck needs is more jewels. 
LADY SIMS (faltering). More ! 
SIR HARRY. Some ropes of pearls. I '11 see 
to it. It 's a bagatelle to me. (KATE conceals 
her chagrin, so she had better be shown the door. 


He rings.) I won't detain you any longer, 

KATE. Thank you. 

LADY SIMS. Going already ? You have been 
very quick. 

sm HARRY. The person doesn't suit, Emmy. 

LADY SIMS. I 'm sorry. 

KATE. So am I, madam, but it can't be 
helped. Good-bye, your ladyship good-bye, 
Sir Harry. (There is a suspicion of an im- 
pertinent curtsy, and she is escorted off the pre- 
mises by TOMBES. The air of the room is purified 
by her going. SIR HARRY notices it at once.) 

LADY SIMS (whose tendency is to say the wrong 
thing). She seemed such a capable woman. 

SIR HARRY (on his hearth). I don't like her 
style at all. 

LADY SIMS (meekly). Of course you know 
best. (This is the right kind of woman.) 

SIR HARRY (rather anxious for corroboration). 
Lord, how she winced when I said I was to 
give you those ropes of pearls. 

LADY SIMS. Did she ? I didn't notice. I 
suppose so. 


SIR HARRY (frowning). Suppose ? Surely I 
know enough about women to know that. 

LADY SIMS. Yes, oh yes. 

SIR HARRY. (Odd that so confident a man 
should ask this.) Emmy, I know you well, 
don't I ? I can read you like a book, eh ? 

LADY SIMS (nervously). Yes, Harry. 

SIR HARRY (jovially, but with an inquiring eye). 
What a different existence yours is from that 
poor lonely wretch's. 

LADY SIMS. Yes, but she has a very con- 
tented face. 

SIR HARRY (with a stamp of his foot). All put 
on. What ? 

LADY SIMS (timidly). I didn't say anything. 

SIR HARRY (snapping). One would think you 
envied her. 

LADY SIMS. Envied ? Oh no but I thought 
she looked so alive. It was while she was work- 
ing the machine. 

SIR HARRY. Alive ! That 's no life. It is 
you that are alive. (Curtly) I 'm busy, 
Emmy. (He sits at his writing-table.) 

LADY SIMS (dutifully). I 'm sorry ; I '11 go, 


Harry. (Inconsequentially) Are they very ex- 
pensive ? 

SIR HARRY. What ? 

LADY SIMS. Those machines ? 

(When she has gone the possible meaning 
of her question startles him. The curtain 
hides him from us, but 'we may be sure 
that he will soon be bland again. We 
have a comfortable feeling, you and /, 
that there is nothing of HARRY SIMS in 



The scene makes believe to be the private home of 
Pantaloon and Columbine, though whether they ever 
did have a private home is uncertain. 

In the English version (and with that alone are we 
concerning ourselves) these two were figures in the 
harlequinade, which in Victorian days gave a finish 
to pantomime as vital as a tail to a dog. Now they are 
vanished from the boards ; or at best they wander 
through the canvas streets, in everybody's way, at heart 
afraid of their own policeman, really dead, and waiting, 
like the faithful old horse, for some one to push them 
over. Here at the theatre is perhaps a scrap of 
Columbine 's skirt, torn off as she squeezed through 
the wings for the last time, or even placed there in- 
tentionally by her as a souvenir : Columbine to her 
public, a kiss hanging on a nail. 

They are very illusive. One has to toss to find out 
what was their relation to each other : whether Pan- 
taloon, for instance, was Columbine's father. He 
was an old, old urchin of the streets over whom some 
fairy wand had been waved, rather carelessly, and this 



makes him a child of art ; now we must all be nice to 
children of art, and the nicest thing we can do for 
Pantaloon is to bring the penny down heads and 
give him a delightful daughter. So Columbine was 
Pantaloon's daughter. 

It would be cruel to her to make her his wife, because 
then she could not have a love-affair. 

The mother is dead, to give the little home a touch 
of pathos. 

We have now proved that Pantaloon and his 
daughter did have a home, and as soon as we know 
that, we know more. We know, for instance, that as 
half a crown seemed almost a competency to them, 
their home must have been in a poor locality and con- 
veniently small. We know also that the sitting-room 
and kitchen combined must have been on the ground 
floor. We know it, because in the harlequinade they 
were always flying from the policeman or bashing his 
helmet, and Pantaloon would have taken ill with a 
chamber that was not easily commanded by the police- 
man on his beat. Even Columbine, we may be sure, 
refined as she was and incapable of the pettiest larceny, 
liked the homely feeling of dodging the policeman 's eye 
as she sat at meals. Lastly, we know that directly 
opposite the little home was a sausage-shop, the 
pleasantest of all sights to Pantaloon, who, next to 


his daughter, loved a sausage. It is being almost too 
intimate to tell that Columbine hated sausages ; she 
hated them as a literary hand's daughter might hate 
manuscripts. But like a loving child she never told 
her hate, and spent great part of her time toasting 
sausages to a turn before the fit e, and eating her own 
one bravely when she must, but concealing it in the 
oddest places when she could. 

We should now be able to reconstitute Pantaloon's 
parlour. It is agreeably stuffy, with two windows and 
a recess between them, from which one may peep both 
ways for the policeman. The furniture is in horse-hair, 
no rents showing, because careful Columbine has 
covered them with antimacassars. All the chairs (but 
not the sofa) are as sound of limb as they look except 
one, and Columbine, who is as light as an air balloon, 
can sit on this one even with her feet off the floor. 
Though the time is summer there is a fire burning, 
so that Pantaloon need never eat his sausages raw, 
which he might do inadvertently if Columbine did 
not take them gently from his hand. There is a cosy 
round table with a waxcloth cover adhering to it like 
a sticking-plaster, and this table is set for tea. His- 
trionic dignity is given to the room by a large wicker 
trunk in which Pantaloon's treasures are packed 
when he travels by rail, and on it is a printed intima- 


tion that he is one of the brightest wits on earth. 
Columbine could be crushed, concertina-like, into half 
of this trunk, and it may be that she sometimes travels 
thus to save her ticket. Between the windows hangs 
a glass case, such as those at inns wherein Piscator 
preserves his stuffed pike, but this one contains a poker. 
It is interesting to note that Pantaloon is sufficiently 
catholic in his tastes to spare a favourable eye for other 
arts than his own. There are various paintings on 
the walls, all of himself, with the exception of a small 
one of his wife. These represent him not in humorous 
act but for all time, as, for instance, leaning on a 
bracket and reading a book, with one finger laid lightly 
against his nose. 

So far our work of reconstitution has been easy, but 
we now come to the teaser. In all these pictures save 
one (to be referred to in its proper place) Pantaloon is 
presented not on the stage but in private life, yet he is 
garbed and powdered as we know him in the harle- 
quinade. If they are genuine portraits, therefore, 
they tell us something profoundly odd about the home 
life of Pantaloon ; nothing less than this, that as he 
was on the stage, so he was off it, clothes, powder, and 
all ; he was not acting a part in the harlequinade, he 
was merely being himself. It was undoubtedly this 
strange discovery that set us writing a play about him. 


Of course bitter controversy may come of this, for 
not every one will agree that we are right. It is well 
known among the cognoscenti that actors in general 
are not the same off the stage as on ; that they dress 
for their parts, speak words written for them which 
they do not necessarily believe, and afterwards wash 
the whole thing off and then go to clubs and coolly cross 
their legs. I accept this to be so (though I think it a 
pity), but Pantaloon was never an actor in their sense ; 
he would have scorned to speak words written for him 
by any whippersnapper ; what he said and did before 
the footlights were the result of mature conviction and 
represented his philosophy of life. It is the more 
easy to believe this of him because we are so anxious 
to believe it of Columbine. Otherwise she could not 
wear her pretty skirts in our play, and that would be 

If this noble and simple consistency was the mark 
of Pantaloon and Columbine (as we have now 
proved up to the hilt), it must have distinguished no 
less the other members of the harlequinade. There 
were two others, the Harlequin and the Clown. 

In far-back days, when the world was so young 
that pieces of the original egg-shell still adhered to it, 
one boy was so desperately poor that he alone of children 
could not don fancy dress on fair days. Presently the 


other children were sorry for this drab one, so each of 
them clipped a little bit off his own clothing and gave 
it to him. These were sewn together and made into a 
costume for him, by the jolly little tailors who in our 
days have quite gone out, and that is why Harlequin 
has come down to us in patchwork. He was a lovely 
boy with no brains at all (not that this matters), while 
the Clown was all brain. 

It has been our whim to make Pantaloon and 
Columbine our chief figures, but we have had to go for 
them, as it were, to the kitchen ; the true head of the 
harlequinade was the Clown. You could not become 
a clown by taking thought, you had to be born one. It 
was just a chance. If the Clown had wished to walk 
over the others they would have spread themselves on 
the ground so that he should be able to do it without 
inconveniencing himself. Any money they had they 
got from him, and it was usually pennies. If they 
displeased him he caned them. He had too much 
power and it brutalised him, as we shall see, but in 
fairness it should be told that he owed his supremacy 
entirely to his funniness. The family worshipped 
funniness, and he was the funniest. 

It is not necessary for our play to reconstitute the 
homes of Harlequin and Clown, but it could be done. 
Harlequin, as a bachelor with no means but with a 


secret conviction that he was a gentleman t had a sitting- 
and-bed combined at the top of a house too near Jermyn 
Street for his purse. He made up by not eating very 
much, which was good for his figure. He always 
carried his wand, which had curious magical qualities, 
for instance it could make him invisible ; but in the 
street he seldom asked this of it, having indeed a 
friendly desire to be looked at. He had delightful 
manners and an honest heart. The Clown, who, of 
course, had appearances to keep up, knew the value of 
a good address, and undoubtedly lived in the Cromwell 
Road. He smoked cigars with bands round them, 
and his togs were cut in Savile Row. 

Clown and Pantaloon were a garrulous pair, but 
Columbine and Harlequin never spoke. I don't 
know whether they were what we call dumb. Perhaps 
if they had tried to talk with their tongues they could 
have done so, but they never thought of it. Tftey were 
such exquisite dancers that they did ail their talking 
with their legs. There is nothing that may be said 
which they could not express with this leg or that. It 
is the loveliest of all languages, and as soft as the fall 
of snow. 

When the curtain rises we see Columbine alone in 
the little house, very happy and gay, for she has no notion 
that her tragic hour is about to strike. She is dressed 


precisely as we may have seen her on the stage. It is 
the pink skirt, the white one being usually kept for 
Sunday, which is also washing-day ; and we almost 
wish this had been Sunday, just to show Columbine 
in white at the tub, washing the pink without letting 
a single soap-sud pop on to the white. She is toasting 
bread rhythmically by the fire, and hides the toasting- 
fork as the policeman passes suspiciously outside. 
Presently she is in a whirl of emotion because she has 
heard Harlequin's knock. She rushes to the window 
and hides (they were always hiding), she blows kisses, 
and in her excitement she is everywhere and nowhere 
at once, like a kitten that leaps at nothing and stops 
half-way. She has the short quick steps of a bird on 
a lawn. Long before we have time to describe her 
movements she has bobbed out of sight beneath the 
table to await Harlequin funnily, for we must never 
forget that they are a funny family. With a whirl 
of his wand that is itself a dance, Harlequin makes 
the door fly open. He enters, says the stage direction, 
but what it means is that somehow he is now in the 
room. He probably knows that Columbine is 
beneath the table, as she hides so often and there are 
so few places in the room to hide in, but he searches 
for her elsewhere, even in a jug, to her extreme mirth, 
for of course she is peeping at him. He taps the 


wicker basket with his wand and the lid flies open. 
Still no Columbine! He sits dejectedly on a chair 
by the table, with one foot toward the spot where we 
last saw her head. This is irresistible. She kisses 
the foot. She is out from beneath the table now, 
and he is pursuing her round the room. They are 
as wayward as leaves in a gale. The cunning fellow 
pretends he does not want her, and now it is she who 
is pursuing him. There is something entrancing in 
his hand. It is a ring. It is the engagement-ring 
at last ! She falters, she blushes, but she snatches at 
the ring. He tantalises her, holding it beyond her 
reach, but soon she has pulled down his hand and the 
ring is on her finger. They are dancing ecstatically 
when Pantaloon comes in and has to drop his stick 
because she leaps into his arms. If she were not so 
flurried she would see that the aged man has brought 
excitement with him also. 

PANTALOON. Ah, Fairy ! Fond of her dad, 
is she ? Sweetest little daughter ever an old 
'un had. (He sees HARLEQUIN and is genial to 
him, while HARLEQUIN pirouettes a How-d" ye-do.) 
You here, Boy ; welcome, Boy. (He is about 
to remove his hat in the ordinary way, but HARLE- 
QUIN, to save his prospective father-in-law any 


little trouble, waves his wand and the hat goes to 
rest on a door-peg. The little service so humbly 
tendered pleases PANTALOON, and he surveys 
HARLEQUIN with kindly condescension.) Thank 
you, Boy. You are a good fellow, Boy, and 
an artist too, in your limited way, not here 
(tapping his head), not in a brainy way, but 
lower down (thoughtfully, and including COLUM- 
BINE in his downward survey). That 's where 
your personality lies lower down. (At the 
noble word personality COLUMBINE thankfully 
crosses herself, and then indicates that tea is 
ready.) Tea, Fairy ? I have such glorious 
news ; but I will have a dish of tea first. You 
will join us, Boy ? Sit down. (They sit down 
to tea, the lovers exchanging shy, happy glances, 
but soon PANTALOON rises petulantly.) Fairy, 
there are no sausages ! Tea without a sausage. 
I am bitterly disappointed. And on a day, too, 
when I have great news. It 's almost more 
than I can bear. No sausages ! (He is old 
and is near weeping, but COLUMBINE indicates 
with her personality that if he does not forgive 
her she must droop and die, and soon again he 


is a magnanimous father.) Yes, yes, my pet, I 
forgive you. You can't abide sausages ; nor 
can you, Boy. (They hide their shamed heads.) 
It 's not your fault. Some are born with the 
instinct for a sausage, and some have it not. 
(More brightly) Would you like me to be funny 
now, my dear, or shall we have tea first ? 
(They prefer to have tea first, and the courteous 
old man sits down with them.) But you do 
think me funny, don't you, Fairy ? Neither 
of you can look at me without laughing, can 
you ? Try, Boy ; try, Fairy. (They try, but 
fail. He is moved.) Thank you both, thank 
you kindly. If the public only knew how 
anxiously we listen for the laugh they would 
be less grudging of it. (Hastily) Not that 
I have any cause of complaint. Every night 
I get the laugh from my generous patrons, 
the public, and always by legitimate means. 
When I think what a favourite I am I cannot 
keep my seat. (He rises proudly.) I am 
acknowledged by all in the know to be a funny 
old man. (He moves about exultantly, looking 
at the portraits that are to hand him down to 


posterity.) That picture of me, Boy, was 
painted to commemorate my being the second 
funniest man on earth. Of course Joey is the 
funniest, but I am the second funniest.* (They 
have scarcely listened; they have been exchang- 
ing delicious glances with face and foot. But at 
mention of the CLOWN they shudder a little, and 
their hands seek each other for protection.) This 
portrait I had took done in honour of your 
birth, my love. I call it ' The Old 'Un on First 
Hearing that He is a Father.' (He chuckles 
long before another picture which represents him 
in the dress of ordinary people.) This is me in 
fancy dress ; it is how I went to a fancy-dress 
ball. Your mother, Fairy, was with me, in a 
long skirt ! Very droll we must have looked, and 
very droll we felt. I call to mind we walked 
about in this way ; the way the public walks, 
you know. (In his gaiety he imitates the walk 
of the public, and roguish COLUMBINE imitates 
them also, but she loses her balance.) Yes, try it. 
Don't flutter so much. Ah, it won't do, Fairy. 
Your natural way of walking 's like a bird 
bobbing about on a lawn after worms. Your 


mother was the same, and when she got low 
in spirits I just blew her about the room till 
she was lively again. Blow Fairy about, Boy. 
(HARLEQUIN blows her divinely about the room, 
against the wall, on to seats and off them, and for 
some sad happy moments PANTALOON gazes at 
her, feeling that his wife is alive again. They 
think it is the auspicious time to tell him of their 
love, but bashfulness falls upon them. He only 
sees that their faces shine.) Ah, she is happy, 
my Fairy, but I have news that will make her 
happier ! (Curiously) Fairy, you look as if 
you had something you wanted to tell me. 
Have you news too ? (Tremblingly she extends 
her hand and shows him the ring on it. For a 
moment he misunderstands.) A ring ! Did he 
give you that ? (She nods rapturously.) Oho, 
oho, this makes me so happy. I '11 be funnier 
than ever, if possible. (At this they dance glee- 
fully, but his next words strike them cold.) But, 
the rogue ! He said he wanted me to speak to 
you about it first. That was my news. Oh, 
the rogue ! (They are scared, and sudden fear 
grips him.) There 's nothing wrong, is there ? 


It was Joey gave you that ring, wasn't it, 
Fairy ? (She shakes her head, and the move- 
ment shakes tears from her eyes.) If it wasn't 
Joey, who was it ? (HARLEQUIN steps forward.) 
You ! You are not fond of Boy, are you, 
Fairy ? (She is clinging to her lover now, and 
PANTALOON is a little dazed.) But, my girl, 
Joey wants you. A clown wants you. When 
a clown wants you, you are not going to fling 
yourself away on a harlequin, are you ? (They 
go on their knees to him, and he is touched, but 
also frightened.) Don't try to get round me ; 
now don't. Joey would be angry with me. He 
can be hard when he likes, Joey can. (In a 
whisper) Perhaps he would cane me ! You 
wouldn't like to see your dad caned, Fairy. 
(COLUMBINE'S head sinks to the floor in woe, and 
HARLEQUIN eagerly waves his wand.) Ah, Boy, 
you couldn't defy him. He is our head. You 
can do wonderful things with that wand, but 
you can't fight Joey with it. (Sadly enough the 
wand is lowered.) You see, children, it won't 
do. You have no money, Boy, except the 
coppers Joey sometimes gives you in an en- 


velope of a Friday night, and we can't marry 
without money (with an attempt at joviality), 
can't marry without money, Boy. (HARLEQUIN 
with a rising chest produces money.) Seven 
shillings and tenpence ! You have been saving 
up, Boy. Well done ! But it 's not enough. 
(COLUMBINE darts to the mantelshelf for her 
money-box and rattles it triumphantly. PANTA- 
LOON looks inside it.) A half-crown and two 
sixpences ! It won't do, children. I had a 
pound and a piano -case when I married, and 
yet I was pinched. (They sit on the floor with 
their fingers to their eyes, and with difficulty he 
restrains an impulse to sit beside them.) Poor 
souls ! poor true love ! (The thought of Joey's 
power and greatness overwhelms him.) Think of 
Joey's individuality, Fairy. He banks his 
money, my love. If you saw the boldness of 
Joey in the bank when he hands the slip across 
the counter and counts his money, my pet, 
instead of being thankful for whatever they 
give him. And then he puts out his tongue 
at them ! The artist in him makes him put 
out his tongue at them. For he is a great 


artist, Joey. He is a greater artist than I am. 
I know it and I admit it. He has a touch 
that is beyond me. (Imploringly) Did you 
say you would marry him, my love ? (She does 
not raise her head, and he continues with a new 
break in his voice.) It is not his caning me I 
am so afraid of, but but I 'm oldish now, 
Fairy, even for an old 'un, and there is something 
I must tell you. I have tried to keep it from 
myself, but I know. It is this : I am afraid, 
my sweet, I am not so funny as I used to be. 
(She encircles his knees in dissent.) Yes, it *s 
true, and Joey knows it. On Monday I had 
to fall into the barrel three times before I got 
the laugh. Joey saw ! If Joey were to dismiss 
me I could never get another shop. I would 
be like a dog without a master. He has been 
my master so long. I have put by nearly 
enough to keep me, but oh, Fairy, the awful- 
ness of not being famous any longer. Living 
on without seeing my kind friends in front. 
To think of my just being one of the public, 
of my being pointed at in the streets as the 
old 'un that was fired out of the company 


because he missed his laughs. And that 's what 
Joey will bring to pass if you don't marry 
him, my girl. (It is an appeal for mercy, and 
COLUMBINE is his loving daughter. Her face is 
wan, but she tries to smile. She hugs the ring to 
her breast, and then gives it back to HARLEQUIN. 
They try to dance a last embrace, but their legs 
are leaden. He kisses her cheeks and her foot 
and goes away broken-hearted. The brave girl 
puts her arm round her father's neck and hides 
her wet face. He could not look at it though it 
were exposed, for he has more to tell.) I haven't 
told you the worst yet, my love. I didn't dare 
tell you the worst till Boy had gone. Fairy, 
the marriage is to be to-day ! Joey has 
arranged it all. It 's his humour, and we dare 
not thwart him. He is coming here to take 
you to the wedding. (In a tremble she draws 
away from him.) I haven't been a bad father 
to you, have I, my girl ? When we were wait- 
ing for you before you were born, your mother 
and I, we used to wonder what you would be 
like, and I it was natural, for I was always 
an ambitious man I hoped you would be a 


clown. But that wasn't to be, and when the 
doctor came to me I was walking up and down 
this room in a tremble, for my darling was 
always delicate when the doctor came to me 
and said, ' I congratulate you, sir, on being the 
father of a fine little columbine,' I never uttered 
one word of reproach to him or to you or to 
her. (There is a certain grandeur about the old 
man as he calls attention to the nobility of his 
conduct, but it falls from him on the approach of 
the CLOWN. We hear Joey before we see him : 
he is singing a snatch of one of his triumphant 
ditties, less for his own pleasure perhaps than to 
warn the policeman to be on the alert. He has 
probably driven to the end of the street, and then 
walked. A tremor runs through COLUMBINE at 
sound of him, but PANTALOON smiles, a foolish 
ecstatic smile. Joey has always been his hero.) 
Be ready to laugh, my girl. Joey will be angry 
if he doesn't get the laugh. 

(The CLOWN struts in, as confident of 
welcome as if he were the announcement 
of dinner. He wears his motley like an 
order. A silk hat and an eyeglass indi- 


cate his superior social position. A 
sausage protruding from a pocket shows 
that he can unbend at times. A masterful 
man when you don't applaud enough, he 
is at present in uproarious spirits, as if 
he had just looked in a mirror. At first 
he affects not to see His host, to PANTA- 
LOON'S great entertainment.} 
CLOWN. Miaw, miaw ! 

PANTALOON (bent with merriment). He is at 
his funniest, quite at his funniest. 

(CLOWN kicks him hard but good-naturedly, 
and PANTALOON falls to the ground.) 
CLOWN. Miaw ! 

PANTALOON (reverently). What an artist. 
CLOWN (pretends to see COLUMBINE for the first 
time in his life. In a masterpiece of funniness 
he starts back, like one dazzled by a naked light). 
Oh, Jiminy Crinkles ! Oh, I say, what a 

PANTALOON. There 's nobody like him. 
CLOWN. It 's Fairy. It 's my little Fairy. 
(Strange, but all her admiration for this 
man has gone. He represents nothing to 


her now but wealth and social rank. He 
ogles her, and she shrinks from him as if 
he were something nauseous.) 
PANTALOON (warningly). Fairy ! 
CLOWN (showing sharp teeth). Hey, what 's 
this, old 'un ? Don't she admire me ? 

PANTALOON. Not admire you, Joey ? That 's 
a good 'un. Joey 5 s at his best to-day. 

CLOWN. Ain't she ready to come to her 
wedding ? 

PANTALOON. She 's ready, Joey. 
CLOWN (producing a cane, and lowering). 
Have you told her what will happen to you if 
she ain't ready ? 

PANTALOON (backing). I 've told her, Joey 
(supplicating). Get your hat, Fairy. 

CLOWN. Why ain't she dancing wi' joy and 
pride ? 

PANTALOON. She is, Joey, she is. 

(COLUMBINE attempts to dance with joy 

and pride, and the CLOWN has been so 

long used to adulation that he is deceived.) 

CLOWN (amiable again). Parson 's waiting. 

Oh, what a lark. 


PANTALOON (with a feeling that lark is not 
perhaps the happiest ward for the occasion). 
Get your things, Fairy. 

CLOWN (riding on a chair). Give me some- 
thing first, my lovey-dovey. I shuts my eyes 
and opens my mouth, and waits for what 's 
my doo. (She knows what he means, and it is 
sacrilege to her. But her father's arms are ex- 
tended beseechingly. She gives the now abhorred 
countenance a kiss, and runs from the room. The 
CLOWN plays with the kiss as if it were a sausage, 
a sight abhorrent to HARLEQUIN, who has stolen 
in by the window. Fain would he strike, but 
though he is wearing his mask, which is a sign 
that he is invisible, he fears to do so. As if con- 
scious of the unseen presence, the CLOWN'S brow 
darkens.) Joey, when I came in I saw Boy 
hanging around outside. 

PANTALOON (ill at ease). Boy ? What can 
he be wanting ? 

CLOWN. I know what he is wanting, and 
I know what he will get. (He brandishes the 
cane threateningly. At the same moment the 
wedding bells begin to peal.) 



CLOWN (with grotesque accompaniment). My 
wedding bells. Fairy's wedding bells. There 
they go again, here we are again, there the/ go 
again, here we are again. (COLUMBINE returns. 
She has tried to hide the tears on her cheeks behind 
a muslin veil. There is a melancholy bouquet 
in her hand. She passionately desires to be like 
the respectable public on her marriage day. 
HARLEQUIN raises his mask for a moment that 
she may see him, and they look long at each other, 
those two, who are never to have anything lovely 
to look at again. ' Won't he save her yet ? ' says 
her face, but 4 1 am afraid ' says his. Still the 
bells are jangling.) 

PANTALOON. My girl. 

CLOWN. Mine. (He kisses her, but it is the 
sausage look that is in his eyes. PANTALOON, 
bleeding for his girl, raises his staff to strike him, 
but COLUMBINE will not have the sacrifice. She 
gives her arm to the CLOWN.) To the wedding. 
To the wedding. Old 'un, lead on, and we will 
follow thee ! Oh, what a lark ! 

(They are going toward the door, but in 


this supreme moment love turns timid Boy 
into a man. He waves his mysterious 
wand over them, so that all three are 
suddenly bereft of movement. They are 
like frozen figures. He removes his mask 
and smiles at them with a terrible face. 
Fondly and leisurely he gathers COLUM- 
BINE in his arms and carries her out by 
the window. The CLOWN and PANTALOON 
remain there, as if struck in the act of 
taking a step forward. The wedding 
bells are still pealing.) 

The curtain falls for a moment only. It 
rises on the same room several years later. 

The same room ; as one may say of a 
suit of clothes, out of which the whilom 
tenant has long departed, that they are 
the same man. A room cold to the touch, 
dilapidated, fragments of the ceiling fallen 
and left where they fell, wall-paper peel- 
ing damply, portraits of PANTALOON taken 
down to sell, unsaleable, and never re- 
hung. Once such a clean room that its 


ghost to-day might be COLUMBINE chasing 
a speck of dust, it is now untended. Even 
the windows are grimy, which tells a tale 
of PANTALOON'S final capitulation ; while 
any heart was left him we may be sure he 
kept the windows clean so that the police- 
man might spy upon him. Perhaps the 
policeman has gone from the street, bored, 
nothing doing there now. 

It is evening and winter time, and the 
ancient man is moving listlessly about 
his room, mechanically blowing life into 
his hands as if he had forgotten that there 
is no real reason why there should be life 
in them. The clothes COLUMBINE used to 
brush with such care are slovenly, the hair 
she so often smoothed with all her love is 
unkempt. He is smaller, a man who has 
shrunk into himself in shame, not so 
much shame that he is uncaredfor as that 
he is forgotten. 

He is sitting forlorn by the fire when the 
door opens to admit his first visitor for 
years. It is the CLOWN, just sufficiently 


stouter to look more resplendent. The 
drum, so to say, is larger. He gloats over 
the bowed PANTALOON like a spiteful 

CLOWN (poking PANTALOON with his cane). 
Who can this miserable ancient man be ? 

(Visited at last by some one who knows 
him, PANTALOON rises in a surge of joy.) 
PANTALOON. You have come back, Joey, 
after all these years ! 

CLOWN. Hands off. I came here, my good 
fellow, to inquire for a Mr. Joseph. 

PANTALOON (shuddering) . Yes, that 's me ; 
that 's all that 's left of me ; Mr. Joseph ! Me 
that used to be Joey. 

CLOWN. I think I knew you once, Mr. 
Joseph ? 

PANTALOON. Joey, you 're hard on me. It 
wasn't my fault that Boy tricked us and ran 
off wi' her. 

CLOWN. May I ask, Mr. Joseph, were you 
ever on the boards ? 

PANTALOON. This to me as was your right 
hand ! 


CLOWN. I seem to call to mind something 
like you as used to play the swell. 

PANTALOON (fiercely). It 's a lie ! I was 
born a Pantaloon, and a Pantaloon I '11 die. 

CLOWN. Yes, I heard you was dead, Mr. 
Joseph. Everybody knows it except your- 
self. (He gnaws a sausage.) 

PANTALOON (greedily). Gie me a bite, Joey. 

CLOWN (relentless). I only bites with the 
profession. I never bites with the public. 

PANTALOON. What brought you here ? Just 
to rub it in ? 

CLOWN. Let 's say I came to make inquiries 
after the happy pair. 

PANTALOON. It 's years and years, Joey, 
since they ran away, and I 've never seen them 
since. * 

CLOWN. Heard of them ? 

PANTALOON. Yes, I 've heard. They 're in 
distant parts. 

CLOWN. Answer their letters ? 

PANTALOON (darkening). No. 

CLOWN. They will be doing well, Mr. Joseph, 
without me? 


PANTALOON (boastfully). At first they did 
badly, but when the managers heard Fairy was 
my daughter they said the daughter o' such a 
famous old 'un was sure to draw by reason of 
her father's name. And they print the name 
of her father in big letters. 

CLOWN (rapping it out). It 's you that lie 
now. I know about them. They go starving 
like vagabonds from town to town. 

PANTALOON. Ay, it 's true. They write that 
they 're starving. 

CLOWN. And they 've got a kid to add to 
their misery. All vagabonds, father, mother, 
and kid. 

PANTALOON. Rub it in, Joey. 

CLOWN. You looks as if you would soon be 
starving too. 

PANTALOON (not without dignity). I 'm 

CLOWN. Well, well, I 'm a kindly soul, and 
what brought me here was to make you an 

PANTALOON (glistening). A shop ? 

CLOWN. For old times' sake. 


PANTALOON (with indecent eagerness). To be 
old 'un again ? 

CLOWN. No, you crock, but to carry a sand- 
wich-board in the street wi' my new old 'un's 
name on it. 

(PANTALOON raises his withered arm, but 
he lets it fall.) 

PANTALOON. May you be forgiven for that, 

CLOWN. Miaw ! 

PANTALOON (who is near his end). Joey, there 
stands humbled before you an old artist. 

CLOWN. Never an artist. 

PANTALOON (firmly). An artist at present 

CLOWN. Forgotten clean forgotten. 

PANTALOON (bowing his head). Yes, that's 
it forgotten. Once famous now forgotten. 
Joey, they don't know me even at the sausage- 
shop. I am just one of the public. My worst 
time is when we should be going on the stage, 
and I think I hear the gallery boys calling for 
the old 'un ' Bravo, old 'un ! ' Then I sort 
of break up. I sleep bad o' nights. I think 


sleep would come to me if I could rub my back 
on the scenery again. (He shudders.) But the 
days are longer than the nights. I allus see 
how I am to get through to-day, but I sit 
thinking and thinking how I am to get through 

CLOWN. Poor old crock. Well, so long. 
PANTALOON (offering him the poker). Joey, 
gie me one rub before you go for old times' 

CLOWN. You '11 never be rubbed by a clown 
again, Mr. Joseph. 

PANTALOON. Call me Joey once say ' Good- 
bye, old 'un' for old times' sake. 

CLOWN. You will never be called Joey or 
old 'un by a clown again, Mr. Joseph. 

(With a noble gesture PANTALOON bids 
him begone and the CLOWN miaws and 
goes, twisting a sausage in his mouth as 
if it were a cigar. So he passes from our 
sight, funny to the last, or never funny, an 
equally tragic figure. 

PANTALOON rummages in the wicker 
basket among his gods and strokes them 


lovingly, a painted goose, his famous 
staff, a bladder on a stick. He does not 
know that he is hugging the bladder to 
his cold breast as he again crouches by 
the fire. 

The door opens, and COLUMBINE and 
HARLEQUIN peep in, prepared to receive 
a blozv for welcome. Their faces are 
hollow and their clothes in rags, and, 
saddest of all, they cannot dance in. They 
walk in like the weary public. COLUM- 
BINE looks as if she could walk as far as 
her father's feet, but never any farther. 
With them is the child. This is the great 
surprise: HE is A CLOWN. They sign 
to the child to intercede for them, but 
though only a baby, he is a clown, and he 
must do it in his own way. He pals his 
nose, grins deliciously with the wrong 
parts of his face, and dives beneath the 
table. PANTALOON looks round and sees 
his daughter on her knees before him.) 
PANTALOON. You ! Fairy ! Come back ! 
(For a moment he is to draw her to him, then he 


remembers.) No, I '11 have none of you. It 
was you as brought me to this. Begone, I say 
begone. (They are backing meekly to the door.) 
Stop a minute. Little Fairy, is it true is it 
true my Fairy has a kid ? (She nods, with 
glistening eyes that say ' Can you put me out 
now ? ' The baby peers from under the table, 
and rubs PANTALOON'S legs with the poker. 
Poor little baby, he is the last of the clowns, and 
knows not what is in store for him. PANTALOON 
trembles, it is so long since he has been rubbed. 
He dare not look down.) Fairy, is it the kid ? 
(She nods again ; the moment has come.) My 
Fairy's kid ! (Somehow he has always taken 
for granted that his grandchild is merely a colum- 
bine. If the child had been something greater 
they would all have got a shop again and served 
under him.) Oh, Fairy, if only he had been a 
clown ! 

(Now you see how it is going. The babe 

emerges, and he is a clown. 
Just for a moment PANTALOON cries. 

Then the babe is tantalising him with a 

sausage. PANTALOON revolves round him 


like a happy teetotum. Who so gay now 
as COLUMBINE and HARLEQUIN, dancing 
merrily as if it were again the morning ? 
Oh what a lark is life. Ring down the 
curtain quickly, Mr. Prompter, before we 
see them all swept into the dust-heap.) 



Two middle-aged ladies are drinking tea in the parlour 
of a cottage by the sea. It is far from London, and a 
hundred yards from the cry of children, of whom 
middle-aged ladies have often had enough. Were 
the room Mrs. Page's we should make a journey 
through it in search of character, but she is only a bird 
of passage ; nothing of herself here that has not 
strayed from her bedroom except some cushions and 
rugs : touches of character after all maybe, for they 
suggest that Mrs. Page likes to sit soft. 

The exterior of the cottage is probably picturesque, 
with a thatched roof, but we shall never know for certain, 
it being against the rules of the game to step outside 
and look. The old bowed window of the parlour is of 
the engaging kind that still brings some carriage folk 
to a sudden stop in villages, not necessarily to sample 
the sweets of yester-year exposed within in bottles; 
its panes are leaded; but Mrs. Quickly will put 
something more modern in their place if ever her ship 
comes home. They will then be used as the roof of 



the hencoop, and ultimately some lovely lady, given, 
like the chickens, to ' picking up things, 1 may survey 
the world through them from a window in Mayfair. 
The parlour is, by accident, like some woman's face 
that scores by being out of drawing. At present 
the window is her smile, but one cannot fix features 
to the haphazard floor, nor to the irregular walls, 
which nevertheless are part of the invitation to come 
and stay here. There are two absurd steps leading 
up to Mrs. Page's bedroom, and perhaps they are 
what give the room its retroussee touch. There is a 
smell of seaweed; twice a day Neptune comes 
gallantly to the window and hands Mrs. Page the 
smell of seaweed. He knows probably that she does 
not like to have to go far for her seaweed. Perhaps 
he also suspects her to be something of a spark, and 
looks forward to his evening visits, of which we know 

This is a mere suggestion that there may be more 
in Mrs. Page (when the moon is up, say) than meets 
the eye, but we see at present only what does meet the 
eye as she gossips with her landlady at the tea-table. 
Is she good-looking? is the universal shriek; the 
one question on the one subject that really thrills 
humanity. But the question seems beside the point 
about this particular lady, who has so obviously 


ceased to have any interest in the answer. To us 
who have a few moments to sum her up while she is 
still at the tea-table (just time enough for sharp ones 
to form a wrong impression), she is an indolent, sloppy 
thing, this Mrs. Page of London, decidedly too plump, 
and averse to pulling the strings that might contract 
her ; as Mrs. Quickly may have said, she has let 
her figure go and snapped her fingers at it as it went. 
Her hair is braided back at a minimum of labour 
(and tJie brush has been left on the parlour mantel- 
piece). She wears at tea-time a loose and dowdy 
dressing-gown and large flat slippers. Such a lazy 
woman (shall we venture ?) that if she were a beggar 
and you offered her alms, she would ask you to put 
them in her pocket for her. 

Yet we notice, as contrary to her type, that she is not 
only dowdy but self-consciously enamoured of her 
dowdiness, has a kiss for it so to speak. This is odd, 
and perhaps we had better have another look at her. 
The thing waggling gaily beneath the table is one of her 
feet, from which the sprawling slipper has dropped, 
to remain where it fell. It is an uncommonly pretty 
foot, and one instantly wonders what might not the 
rest of her be like if it also escaped from its moorings. 

The foot returns into custody, without its owner 
having to stoop, and Mrs. Page crosses with cheerful 


languor to a chair by the fire. She has a drawling 
walk that fits her gown. There is no footstool within 
reach, and she pulls another chair to her with her feet 
and rests them on it contentedly. The slippers 
almost hide her from our view. 

DAME QUICKLY. You Mrs. Cosy Comfort. 

MRS. PAGE (whose voice is as lazy as her walk). 
That 's what I am. Perhaps a still better 
name for me would be Mrs. Treacly Content- 
ment. Dame, you like me, don't you ? Come 
here, and tell me why. 

DAME. What do I like you for, Mrs. Page ? 
Well, for one thing, it 's very kind of you to let 
me sit here drinking tea and gossiping with 
you, for all the world as if I were your equal. 
And for another, you always pay your book 
the day I bring it to you, and that is enough to 
make any poor woman like her lodger. 

MRS. PAGE. Oh, as a lodger I know I 'm 
well enough, and I love our gossips over the 
teapot, but that is not exactly what I meant. 
Let me put it in this way : If you tell me what 
you most envy|in me, I shall tell you what I 
most envy in you. 


DAME (with no need to reflect). Well, most of 
all, ma'am, I think I envy you your content- 
ment with middle-age. 

MRS. PAGE (purring). I am middle-aged, so 
why should I complain of it ? 

DAME (who feels that only yesterday she was 
driving the youths to desperation). You even 
say it as if it were a pretty word. 

MBS. PAGE. But isn't it ? 

DAME. Not when you are up to the knees 
in it, as I am. 

MES. PAGE. And as I am. But I dote on it. 
It is such a comfy, sloppy, pull-the-curtains, 
carpet-slipper sort of word. When I awake in 
the morning, Dame, and am about to leap out 
of bed like the girl I once was, I suddenly 
remember, and I cry ' Hurrah, I 'm middle-aged.' 

DAME. You just dumbfounder me when you 
tell me things like that. (Here is something 
she has long wanted to ask.) You can't be more 
than forty, if I may make so bold ? 

MRS. PAGE. I am forty and a bittock, as the 
Scotch say. That means forty, and a good wee 
bit more. 



DAME. There ! And you can say it without 

MRS. PAGE. Why not ? Do you think I 
should call myself a 30-to-45, like a motor-car ? 
Now what I think I envy you for most is for 
being a grandmamma. 

DAME (smiling tolerantly at some picture the 
words have called up). That 's a cheap honour. 
MRS. PAGE (summing up probably her whole 
conception of the duties of a grandmother). I 
should love to be a grandmamma, and toss 
little toddlekins in the air. 

DAME (who knows that there is more in it than 
that). I dare say you will be some day. 

(The eyes of both turn to a photograph on 
the mantelpiece. It represents a pretty 
woman in the dress of Rosalind. The 
DAME fingers it for the hundredth time, 
and MRS. PAGE regards her tranquilly.) 
DAME. No one can deny but your daughter 
is a pretty piece. How old will she be now ? 

MRS. PAGE. Dame, I don't know very much 
about the stage, but I do know that you should 
never, never ask an actress's age. 


DAME. Surely when they are as young and 
famous as this puss is. 

MRS. PAGE. She is getting on, you know. 
Shall we say twenty -three ? 

DAME. Well, well, it's true you might be 
a grandmother by now. I wonder she doesn't 
marry. Where is she now ? 

MRS. PAGE. At Monte Carlo, the papers say. 
It is a place where people gamble. 

DAME (shaking her head). Gamble ? Dear, 
dear, that 's terrible. (But she knows of a 
woman who once won a dinner service without 
anything untoward happening afterwards.) And 
yet I would like just once to put on my shilling 
with the best of them. If I were you I would 
try a month of that place with her. 

MRS. PAGE. Not I, I am just Mrs. Cosy 
Comfort. At Monte Carlo I should be a fish 
out of water, Dame, as much as Beatrice 
would be if she were to try a month down here 
with me. 

DAME (less in disparagement of local society 
than of that sullen bore the sea, and blissfully un- 
aware that it intrudes even at Monte Carlo). Yes, 


I 'm thinking she would find this a dull hole. 
(In the spirit of adventure that has carried the 
English far) And yet, play-actress though she be, 
I would like to see her, God forgive me. 

(She is trimming the lamp when there is a 
knock at the door. She is pleasantly 
flustered, and indicates with a gesture that 
something is constantly happening in this 
go-ahead village.) 
DAME. It has a visitor's sound. 

(The lodger is so impressed that she takes 
her feet off the chair. Thus may MRS. 
QUICKLY' s ancestors have stared at each 
other in this very cottage a hundred years 
ago when they thought they heard Napoleon 

MRS. PAGE (keeping her head). If it is the 
doctor's lady, she wants to arrange with me 
about the cutting out for the mothers' 

DAME (who has long ceased to benefit from these 
gatherings). Drat the mothers' meetings. 

MRS. PAGE. Oh no, I dote on them. (She is 
splendidly active ; in short, the spirited woman 


has got up.) Still, I want my evening snooze 
now, so just tell her I am lying down. 
DAME (thankful to be in a plot). I will. 
MKS. PAGE. Yes, but let me lie down first, 
so that it won't be a fib. 

DAME. There, there. That 's such a middle- 
aged thing to say. 

(In the most middle-aged way MRS. PAGE 
spreads herself on a couch. They have been 
speaking in a whisper, and as the DAME goes 
to the door we have just time to take note that 
MRS. PAGE whispered most beautifully : a 
softer whisper than the DAME'S, but so clear 
that it might be heard across a field. This 
is the most tell-tale thing we have discovered 
about her as yet. 

Before MRS. QUICKLY has reached the door 
it opens to admit an impatient young man 
in knickerbockers and a Norfolk jacket, all 
aglow with raindrops. Public school (and 
the particular one) is written on his fore- 
head, and almost nothing else ; he has 
scarcely yet begun to surmise that anything 
else may be required. He is modest and 


clear-eyed) and would ring for his tub in 
Paradise ; reputably athletic also, with an 
instant smile always in reserve for the 
antagonist who accidentally shins him. 
Whatever you, as his host, ask him to do, 
he says he would like to awfully if you don't 
mind his being a priceless duffer at it ; 
his vocabulary is scanty, and in his engag- 
ing mouth ' priceless ' sums up all that is 
to be known of good or ill in our varied 
existence ; at a pinch it would suffice him 
for most of his simple wants, just as one 
may traverse the Continent with Combien? 
His brain is quite as good as another's, but 
as yet he has referred scarcely anything to 
it. He respects learning in the aged, but 
shrinks uncomfortably from it in contem- 
poraries, as persons who have somehow 
failed. To him the proper way to look 
upon ability is as something we must all 
come to in the end. He has a nice taste in 
the arts that has come to him by the way of 
socks, spats and slips, and of these he has 
a large and happy collection, which he 


laughs at jollity in public (for his sense of 
humour is sufficient], but in the privacy of 
his chamber he sometimes spreads them out 
like troutlet on the river's bank and has his 
quiet thrills of exultation. Having lately 
left Oxford, he is facing the world confidently 
with nothing to impress it except these and 
his Fives Choice (having beaten Hon. Billy 
Minhorn in the final). He has not yet 
decided whether to drop into business or 
diplomacy or the bar. (There will be a lot 
of fag about this) ; and all unknown to him 
there is a grim piece of waste land waiting 
for him in Canada, which he will make a 
hash of, or it will make a man of him. 
Billy will be there too.) 

CHARLES (on the threshold). I beg your pardon 
awfully, but I knocked three times. 

DAME (liking the manner of him, and indeed 
it is the nicest manner in the world). What 's 
your pleasure ? 

CHARLES. You see how jolly wet my things 
are. (These boys get on delightful terms of in- 
timacy at once.) I am on a walking tour not 


that I have walked much (they never boast ; 
he has really walked well and far) and I got 
caught in that shower. I thought when I saw 
a house that you might be kind enough to let 
me take my jacket off and warm my paws, until 
I can catch a train. 

DAME (unable to whisper to MRS. PAGE 'He is 
good-looking '). I 'm sorry, sir, but I have let 
the kitchen fire out. 

CHARLES (peeping over her shoulder). This 
fire ? 

DAME. This is my lodger's room. 

CHARLES. Ah, I see. Still, I dare say that 

if he knew (He has edged farther into the 

room, and becomes aware that there is a lady with 
eyes closed on the sofa.) I beg your pardon ; 
I didn't know there was any one here. 

(But the lady on the sofa replies not, and to 
the DAME this is his dismissal.) 

DAME. The station is just round the corner, 
and there is a waiting-room there. 

CHARLES. A station waiting-room fire ; I 
know them. Is she asleep ? 

DAME. Yes. 


CHARLES (who nearly always gets round them 

when he pouts). Then can't I stay ? I won't 

disturb her. 

DAME (obdurate). I 'm sorry. 

CHARLES (cheerily he will probably do well 

on that fruit-farm). Heigho ! Well, here is for 

the station waiting-room. 

(And he is about to go when MRS. PAGE 
signs to the DAME that he may stay. We 
have given the talk between the DAME and 
CHARLES in order to get it over, but our 
sterner eye is all the time on MRS. PAGE. 
Her eyes remain closed as if in sleep and 
she is lying on the sofa, yet for the first time 
since the curtain rose she has come to life. 
As if she knew we were watching her she is 
again inert, but there was a twitch of the 
mouth a moment ago that let a sunbeam 
loose upon her face. It is gone already, 
popped out of the box and returned to it 
with the speed of thought. Noticeable as 
is MRS. PAGE'S mischievous smile, far 
more noticeable is her control of it. A 
sudden thought occurs to us that the 


face we had thought stolid is made of 
DAME (cleverly). After all, if you 're willing 

just to sit quietly by the fire and take a book 

CHARLES. Rather. Any book. Thank you 
immensely. (And in his delightful way of making 
himself at home he whips off his knapsack and 
steps inside the fender. ' He is saucy, thank 
goodness,' is what the DAME'S glance at MRS. PAGE 
conveys. That lady's eyelids flicker as if she had 
discovered a way of watching CHARLES while she 
slumbers. Anon his eye alights on the photograph 
that has already been the subject of conversation, 
and he is instantly exclamatory.) 

DAME (warningly). Now, you promised not 
to speak. 

CHARLES. But that photograph. How funny 
you should have it. 

DAME (severely). Hsh. It 's not mine. 
CHARLES (with his first glance of interest at 
the sleeper). Hers ? 

(The eyelids have ceased to flicker. It is 
placid MRS. PAGE again. Never was such 
an inelastic face.) 


DAME. Yes ; only don't talk. 

CHARLES. But this is priceless (gazing at the 
photograph). I must talk. (He gives his reason.) 
I know her (a reason that would be complimentary 
to any young lady). It is Miss Beatrice Page. 

DAME (who knows the creature man). You 
mean you 've seen her ? 

CHARLES (youthfully). I know her quite well. 
I have had lunch with her twice. She is at 
Monte Carlo just now. (Swelling) I was one of 
those that saw her off. 

DAME. Yes, that 's the place. Read what 
is written across her velvet chest. 

CHARLES (deciphering the writing on the photo- 
graph). l To darling Mumsy with heaps of 
kisses.' (His eyes gleam. Is he in the middle 
of an astonishing adventure?) You don't tell 
me Is that ? 

DAME (as coolly as though she were passing the 
butter). Yes, that 's her mother. And a sore 
trial it must have been to her when her girl took 
to such a trade. 

CHARLES (waving aside such nonsense). But I 
say, she never spoke to me about a mother. 


DAME. The more shame to her. 
CHARLES (deeply versed in the traffic of the 
stage). I mean she is famed as being almost 
the only actress who doesn't have a mother. 
DAME (bewildered). What ? 
CHARLES (seeing the uselessness of laying pearls 
before this lady). Let me have a look at her. 

DAME. It is not to be thought of. (But an 
unexpected nod from the sleeper indicates that it 
may be permitted.) Oh, well, I see no harm in 
it if you go softly. 

(He tiptoes to the sofa, but perhaps MRS. 
PAGE is a light sleeper, for she stirs a little, 
just sufficiently to become more compact, 
while the slippers rise into startling prom- 
inence. Some humorous dream, as it might 
be, slightly extends her mouth and turns the 
oval of her face into a round. Her head 
has sunk into her neck. Simultaneously, 
as if her circulation were suddenly held up, 
a shadow passes over her complexion. 
This is a bad copy of the MRS. PAGE we 
have seen hitherto, and will give CHARLES 
a poor impression of her.) 


CHARLES (peering over the slippers). Yes, 
yes, yes. 

DAMB. Is she like the daughter, think you ? 

CHARLES (judicially). In a way, very. Hair 's 
not so pretty. She 's not such a fine colour. 
Heavier build, and I should say not so tall. 
None of Miss Page's distinction, nothing svelte 
about her. As for the feet (he might almost have 

said the palisade) the feet (He shudders a 

little, and so do the feet.) 

DAME. She is getting on, you see. She is 
forty and a bittock. 

CHARLES. A whattock ? 

DAME (who has never studied the Doric). It 
may be a whattock. 

CHARLES (gallantly). But there 's something 
nice about her. I could have told she was her 
mother anywhere. (With which handsome com- 
pliment he returns to the fire, and MRS. PAGE, no 
doubt much gratified, throws a kiss after him. She 
also signs to the DAME a mischievous desire to be 
left alone with this blade.) 

DAME (discreetly). Well, I '11 leave you, but, 
mind, you are not to disturb her. 


(She goes, with the pleasant feeling that 
there are two clever women in the house ; 
and with wide-open eyes MRS. PAGE watches 
CHARLES dealing amorously with the photo- 
graph. Soon he returns to her side, and 
her eyes are closed, but she does not trouble 
to repeat the trifling with her appearance. 
She probably knows the strength of first 
CHARLES (murmuring the word as if it were 

sweet music). Mumsy. (With conviction) You 

lucky mother. 

MRS. PAGE (in a dream). Is that you, 

Beatrice ? 

(This makes him skurry away, but he is 
soon back again, and the soundness of her 
slumber annoys him.) 
CHARLES (in a reproachful whisper). Woman, 

wake up and talk to me about your daughter. 

(The selfish thing sleeps on, and somewhat 
gingerly he pulls away the cushion from 
beneath her head. Nice treatment for a 
lady. MRS. PAGE starts up, and at first 
is not quite sure where she is, you know.) 


MRS. PAGE. Why what 

CHARLES (contritely). I am very sorry. I 'm 
afraid I disturbed you. 

MRS. PAGE (blankly). I don't know you, do I ? 

CHARLES (who has his inspirations). No, 
madam, but I wish you did. 

MRS. PAGE (making sure that she is still in the 
DAME'S cottage). Who are you ? and what are 
you doing here ? 

CHARLES (for truth is best). My name is 
Roche. I am nobody in particular. I 'm just 
the usual thing ; Eton, Oxford, and so to bed 
as Pepys would say. I am on a walking tour, 
on my way to the station, but there is no train 
till seven, and your landlady let me in out 
of the rain on the promise that I wouldn't 
disturb you. 

MRS. PAGE (taking it all in with a woman's 
quickness). I see. (Suddenly) But you have 
disturbed me. 

CHARLES. I 'm sorry. 

MRS. PAGE (with a covert eye on him). It 
wasn't really your fault. This cushion slipped 
from under me, and I woke up. 


CHARLES (manfully). No, I I pulled it away. 

MRS. PAGE (indignant). You did ! (She ad- 
vances upon him like a stately ship.) Will you 
please to tell me why ? 

CHARLES (feebly). I didn't mean to pull so 
hard. (Then he gallantly leaps into the breach.) 
Madam, I felt it was impossible for me to leave 
this house without first waking you to tell you 
of the feelings of solemn respect with which I 
regard you. 

MRS. PAGE. Really. 

CHARLES. I suppose I consider you the 
cleverest woman in the world. 

MRS. PAGE. On so short an acquaintance ? 

CHARLES (lucidly). I mean, to have had the 
priceless cleverness to have her 

MRS. PAGE. Have her ? (A light breaks on 
her.) My daughter ? 

CHARLES. Yes, I know her. (As who should 
say, Isn't it a jolly world.) 

MRS. PAGE. You know Beatrice personally ? 

CHARLES (not surprised that it takes her a little 
time to get used to the idea). I assure you I have 
that honour. (In one mouthful) I think she is 


the most beautiful and the cleverest woman I 
have ever known. 

MRS. PAGE. I thought I was the cleverest. 

CHARLES. Yes, indeed ; for I think it even 
cleverer to have had her than to be her. 

MRS. PAGE. Dear me. I must wait till I 
get a chair before thinking this out. (A chair 
means two chairs to her, as we have seen, but 
she gives the one on which her feet wish to rest to 
CHARLES.) You can have this half, Mr. ah 
Mr. ? 

CHARLES. Roche. 

MRS. PAGE (resting from her labours of the last 
minute). You are so nattering, Mr. Roche, I 
think you must be an actor yourself. 

CHARLES (succinctly). No, I 'm nothing. My 
father says I 'm just an expense. But when I 
saw Beatrice's photograph there (the nice boy 
pauses a moment because this is the first time he 
has said the name to her mother ; he is taking off 
his hat to it) with .the inscription on it 

MRS. PAGE. That foolish inscription. 

CHARLES (arrested). Do you think so ? 

MRS. PAGE. I mean foolish, because she has 



quite spoilt the picture by writing across the 
chest. That beautiful gown ruined. 

CHARLES (fondly tolerant). They all do it, 
even across their trousers ; the men I mean. 

MRS. PAGE (interested). Do they ? I wonder 

CHARLES (remembering now that other callings 
don't do it). It does seem odd. (But after all 
the others are probably missing something.) 

MRS. PAGE (shaking her wise head). I know 
very little about them, but I am afraid they are 
an odd race. 

CHARLES (who has doted on many of them, 
though they were usually not sitting at his table). 
But very attractive, don't you think ? The 
ladies I mean. 

MRS. PAGE (luxuriously). I mix so little with 
them. I am not a Bohemian, you see. Did I 
tell you that I have never even seen Beatrice 

CHARLES. You haven't ? How very strange. 
Not even her Rosalind ? 

MRS. PAGE (stretching herself). No. Is it 
cruel to her ? 


CHARLES (giving her one). Cruel to yourself. 
(But this is no policy for an admirer of MISS PAGE.) 
She gave me her photograph as Rosalind. 
(Hurriedly) Not a postcard. 

MRS. PAGE (who is very likely sneering). With 
writing across the chest, I '11 be bound. 

CHARLES (stoutly). Do you think I value it 
the less for that ? 

MRS. PAGE (unblushing). Oh no, the more. 
You have it framed on your mantelshelf, haven't 
you, so that when the other young bloods who 
are just an expense drop in they may read the 
pretty words and say, ' Roche, old man, you 
are going it.' 

CHARLES. Do you really think that I 

MRS. PAGE. Pooh, that was what Beatrice 
expected when she gave it you. 

CHARLES. Silence ! (She raises her eyebrows, 
and he is stricken.) I beg your pardon, I should 
have remembered that you are her mother. 

MRS. PAGE (smiling on him). I beg yours. I 
should like to know, Mr. Roche, where you do 
keep that foolish photograph. 

CHARLES (with a swelling). Why, here. (He 


produces it in a case from an honoured pocket.) 
Won't you look at it ? 

MRS. PAGE (with proper solemnity). Yes. It 
is one I like. 

CHARLES (cocking his head). It just misses her 
at her best. 

MRS. PAGE. Her best ? You mean her way 
of screwing her nose ? 

CHARLES (who was never sent up for good for 
lucidity or perhaps he was). That comes into 
it. I mean I mean her naivete*. 

MRS. PAGE. Ah yes, her naivete. I have 
often seen her practising it before a glass. 

CHARLES (with a disarming smile). Excuse 
me ; you haven't, you know. 

MRS. PAGE (disarmed). Haven't I ? Well, 
well, I dare say she is a wonder, but, mind you, 
when all is said and done, it is for her nose that 
she gets her salary. May I read what is written 
on the chest ? (She reads.) The baggage ! 
(Shaking her head at him). But this young lady 
on the other side, who is she, Lothario ? 

CHARLES (boyish and stumbling). That is my 
sister. She died three years ago. We were 


rather chums and she gave me that case to 
put her picture in. So I did. 

(He jerks it out, glaring at her to see if she 
is despising him. But MRS. PAGE, though 
she cannot be sentimental for long, can be 
very good at it while it lasts.) 
MRS. PAGE (quite moved). Good brother. 
And it is a dear face. But you should not have 
put my Beatrice opposite it, Mr. Roche : your 
sister would not have liked that. It was thought- 
less of you. 

CHARLES. My sister would have liked it very 
much. (Floundering) When she gave me the 
case she said to me you know what girls are 
she said, 4 If you get to love a woman, put her 
picture opposite mine, and then when the case 
is closed I shall be kissing her.' 

(His face implores her not to think him a 
silly. She is really more troubled than we 
might have expected.) 
MRS. PAGE (rising). Mr. Roche, I never 


CHARLES. And that is why I keep the two 
pictures together. 


MRS. PAGE. You shouldn't. 

CHARLES. Why shouldn't I ? Don't you 
dare to say anything to me against my Beatrice. 

MRS. PAGE (with the smile of ocean on her face). 
Your Beatrice. You poor boy. 

CHARLES. Of course I haven't any right to 
call her that. I haven't spoken of it to her yet. 
I 'm such a nobody, you see. (Very nice and 
candid of him, but we may remember that his love 
has not set him trying to make a somebody out of 
the nobody. Are you perfectly certain, CHARLES, 
that to be seen with the celebrated PAGE is not almost 
more delightful to you than to be with her ? Her 
mother at all events gives him the benefit of the doubt, 
or so we interpret her sudden action. She tears the 
photograph in two. He protests indignantly.) 

MRS. PAGE. Mr. Roche, be merry and gay 
with Beatrice as you will, but don't take her 
seriously. (She gives him back the case.) I 
think you said you had to catch a train. 

CHARLES (surveying his lorn treasure. He is 
very near to tears, but decides rather recklessly to 
be a strong man). Not yet ; I must speak of her 
to you now. 


MRS. PAGE (a strong woman without having to 
decide}. I forbid ycu. 

CHARLES (who, if he knew himself, might see 
that a good deal of gloomy entertainment could be 
got by desisting here and stalking London as the 
persecuted of his lady's mamma). I have the 
right. There is no decent man who hasn't the 
right to tell a woman that he loves her daughter. 

MRS. PAGE (determined to keep him to earth 
though she has to hold him down). She doesn't 
love you, my friend. 

CHARLES (though a hopeless passion would be 
another rather jolly thing). How do you know ? 
You have already said 

MRS. PAGE (rather desperate). I wish you had 
never come here. 

CHARLES (manfully). Why are you so set 
against me ? I think if I was a woman I should 
like at any rate to take a good straight look into 
the eyes of a man who said he was fond of her 
daughter. You might have to say ' No ' to him, 
but often you must have had thoughts of the 
kind of man who would one day take her from 
you, and though I may not be the kind, I assure 


you, I I am just as fond of her as if I were. 
(Not bad for CHARLES. Sent up for good this 

MRS. PAGE (beating her hands together in dis- 
tress). You are torturing me, Charles. 

CHARLES. But why ? Did I tell you my 
name was Charles ? (With a happy thought) 
She has spoken of me to you ! What did 
she say ? 

(If he were thinking less of himself and a 
little of the woman before him he would see 
that she has turned into an exquisite sup- 

MRS. PAGE. Oh, boy you boy ! Don't say 
anything more. Go away now. 

CHARLES. I don't understand. 

MRS. PAGE. I never had an idea that you 
cared in that way. I thought we were only 
jolly friends. 


MRS. PAGE (with a wry lip for the word that has 
escaped her). Charles, if you must know, can't 
you help me out a little ? Don't you see at 


(She has come to him with undulations 
as lovely as a swallow's flight, mocking, 
begging, not at all the woman we have been 
watching; she has become suddenly a 
disdainful, melting armful. But CHARLES 
does not see.) 

CHARLES (the obtuse). I I 
MRS. PAGE. Very well. But indeed I am sorry 
to have to break your pretty toy. (Drooping still 
farther on her stem.) Beatrice, Mr. Roche, has not 
had a mother this many a year. Do you see now ? 

MRS. PAGE. Well, well. (Abjectly) Beatrice, 
Mr. Roche, is forty and a bittock. 
CHARLES. I you but oh no. 
MRS. PAGE (for better, for worse). Yes, I am 
Beatrice. (He looks to the photograph to rise up 
and give her the lie.) The writing on the photo- 
graph ? A jest. I can explain that. 

CHARLES. But but it isn't only on the stage 
I have seen her. I know her off too. 

MRS. PAGE. A little. I can explain that also. 
(He is a very woeful young man.) I am horribly 
sorry, Charles. 


CHARLES (with his last kick). Even now 

MRS. PAGE. Do you remember an incident 
with a pair of scissors one day last June in a 
boat near Maidenhead ? 

CHARLES. When Beatrice when you when 
she cut her wrist ? 

MRS. PAGE. And you kissed the place to make 
it well. It left its mark. 

CHARLES. I have seen it since. 

MRS. PAGE. You may see it again, Charles. 
(She offers him her wrist, but he does not look. He 
knows the mark is there. For the moment the 
comic spirit has deserted her, so anxious is she to 
help this tragic boy. She speaks in the cooing 
voice that proves her to be BEATRICE better than 
any wrist-mark.) Am I so terribly unlike her as 
you knew her ? 

CHARLES (Ah, to be stabbed with the voice you 
have loved). No, you are very like, only yes, 
I know now it 's you. 

MRS. PAGE (pricked keenly). Only I am look- 
ing my age to-day. (Forlorn) This is my real 
self, Charles if I have one. Why don't you 
laugh, my friend ? I am laughing. (No, not yet, 


though she will be presently.) You won't give me 
away, will you ? (He shakes his head.) I know 
you won't now, but it was my first fear when I 
saw you. (With a sigh) And now, I suppose, I 
owe you an explanation. 

CHARLES (done with the world). Not unless 
you wish to. 

MRS. PAGE. Oh yes, I wish to. (The laughter 
is bubbling up now.) Only it will leave you a 
wiser and a sadder man. You will never be 
twenty -three again, Charles. 

CHARLES (recalling his distant youth). No, I 
know I won't. 

MRS. PAGE (now the laughter is playing round 
her mouth). Ah, don't take it so lugubriously. 
You will only jump to twenty -four, say. 
(She sits down beside him to make full confes- 
sion.) You must often have heard gossip about 
actresses' ages ? 

CHARLES. I didn't join in it. 

MRS. PAGE. Then you can't be a member of 
a club. 

CHARLES. If they began it 

MRS. PAGE. You wouldn't listen ? 


CHARLES. Not about you. I dare say I 
listened about the others. 

MES. PAGE. You nice boy. And now to make 
you twenty -four. (Involuntarily, true to the call- 
ing she adorns, she makes the surgeon's action of 
turning up her sleeves.) You have seen lots of 
plays, Charles ? 

CHARLES. Yes, tons. 

MRS. PAGE. Have you noticed that there are 
no parts in them for middle-aged ladies ? 

CHARLES (who has had too happy a life to notice 
this or almost anything else). Aren't there ? 

MRS. PAGE. Oh no, not for ' stars.' There 
is nothing for them between the ages of twenty - 
nine and sixty. Occasionally one of the less 
experienced dramatists may write such a part, 
but with a little coaxing we can always make 
him say, ' She needn't be more than twenty- 
nine.' And so, dear Charles, we have succeeded 
hi keeping middle-age for women off the stage. 
Why, even Father Time doesn't let on about 
us. He waits at the wings with a dark cloth 
for us, just as our dressers wait with dust-sheets 
to fling over our expensive frocks ; but we 


have a way with us that makes even Father 
Time reluctant to cast his cloak ; perhaps it is 
the coquettish imploring look we give him as 
we dodge him ; perhaps though he is an old 
fellow he can't resist the powder on our pretty 
noses. And so he says, ' The enchanting baggage, 
I '11 give her another year.' When you come to 
write my epitaph, Charles, let it be in these 
delicious words, ' She had a long twenty -nine.' 

CHARLES. But off the stage I knew you off. 
(Recalling a gay phantom) Why, I was one of 
those who saw you into your train for Monte 

MRS. PAGE. You thought you did. That 
made it easier for me to deceive you here. But 
I got out of that train at the next station. 

(She makes a movement to get out of the 
train here. We begin to note how she suits 
the action to the word in obedience to 
Shakespeare's lamentable injunction ; she 
cannot mention the tongs without forking 
two of her fingers .} 

CHARLES. You came here instead ? 
MRS. PAGE. Yes, stole here. 


CHARLES (surveying the broken pieces of her). 
Even now I can scarcely You who seemed 
so young and gay. 

MRS. PAGE (who is really very good-natured, 
else would she clout him on the head). I was a 
twenty -nine. Oh, don't look so solemn, Charles. 
It is not confined to the stage. The stalls are 
full of twenty -nines. Do you remember what 
fun it was to help me on with my cloak ? Re- 
member why I had to put more powder on my 
chin one evening ? 

CHARLES (with a groan). It was only a few 
weeks ago. 

MRS. PAGE. Yes. Sometimes it was Mr. 
Time I saw in the mirror, but the wretch only 
winked at me and went his way. 

CHARLES (ungallantly). But your whole ap- 
pearance so girlish compared to 

MRS. PAGE (gallantly). To this. I am coming 
to 4 this,' Charles. (Confidentially ; no one can 
be quite so delightfully confidential as BEATRICE 
PAGE.) You see, never having been more than 
twenty -nine, not even in my sleep for we have 
to keep it up even in our sleep I began to 


wonder what middle-age was like. I wanted to 
feel the sensation. A woman's curiosity, Charles. 

CHARLES. Still, you couldn't 

MRS. PAGE. Couldn't I ! Listen. Two 
summers ago, instead of going to Biarritz 
see pictures of me in the illustrated papers 
stepping into my motor-car, or going a round 
of country houses see photograph of us all on 
the steps the names, Charles, read from left 
to right instead of doing any of these things 
I pretended I went there, and in reality I came 
down here, determined for a whole calendar 
month to be a middle-aged lady. I had to 
get some new clothes, real, cosy, sloppy, very 
middle-aged clothes ; and that is why I invented 
mamma ; I got them for her, you see. I said 
she was about my figure, but stouter and shorter, 
a you see she is. 

CHARLES (his eyes wandering up and down 
her and nowhere a familiar place). I can't 
make out 

MRS. PAGE. No, you are too nice a boy to 
make it out. You don't understand the differ- 
ence that a sober way of doing one's hah-, and 


the letting out of a few strings, and sundry 
other trifles that are no trifles, make ; but you 
see I vowed that if the immortal part of me 
was to get a novel sort of rest, my figure should 
get it also. Voild ! And thus all cosy within 
and without, I took lodgings in the most out -of - 
the-world spot I knew of, in the hope that here I 
might find the lady of whom I was in search. 

CHARLES. Meaning ? 

MRS. PAGE (rather grimly). Meaning myself. 
Until two years ago she and I had never met. 

CHARLES (the cynic). And how do you like her ? 

MRS. PAGE. Better than you do, young sir. 
She is really rather nice. I don't suppose I 
could do with her all the year round, but for 
a month or so I am just wallowing in her. 
You remember my entrancing little shoes ? 
(she wickedly exposes her flapping slippers). At 
local dances I sit out deliciously as a wall- 
flower. Drop a tear, Charles, for me as a wall- 
flower. I play cards, and the engaged ladies 
give me their confidences as a dear old thing ; 
and I never, never dream of setting my cap at 
their swains. 


CHARLES. How strange. You who, when 
you liked 

MRS. PAGE (plaintively). Yes, couldn't I, 
Charles ? 

CHARLES (fatting into the snare). It was just 
the wild gaiety of you. 

MRS. PAGE (who is in the better position to 
know). It was the devilry of me. 

CHARLES. Whatever it was, it bewitched us. 

MRS. PAGE (candidly, but forgiving herself). It 
oughtn't to. 

CHARLES. If you weren't all glee you were 
the saddest thing on earth. 

MRS. PAGE. But I shouldn't have been sad 
on your shoulders, Charles. 

CHARLES (appealing). You weren't sad on all 
our shoulders, were you ? 

MRS. PAGE (reassuring). No, not all. 

Oh the gladness of her gladness when she 's glad, 

And the sadness of her sadness when she 's sad, 

But the gladness of her gladness 

And the sadness of her sadness 

Are as nothing, Charles, 

To the badness of her badness when she 's bad. 

(This dagger-to-her-breast business is one 



of her choicest tricks offence, and is very 
danger ous if you can coo like BEATRICE.) 

CHARLES (pinked) . Not a word against yourself. 

MRS. PAGE (already seeing what she has been 
up to). Myself! I suppose even now I am 
only playing a part. 

CHARLES (who has become her handkerchief). 
No, no, this is your real self. 

MRS. PAGE (warily). Is it ? I wonder. 

CHARLES. I never knew any one who had 
deeper feelings. 

MRS. PAGE. Oh, I am always ready with 
whatever feeling is called for. I have a ward- 
robe of them, Charles. Don't blame me, blame 
the public of whom you are one ; the pitiless 
public that has made me what I am. I am 
their slave and their plaything, and when I 
please them they fling me nuts. (Her voice 
breaks ; no voice can break so naturally as 
BEATRICE'S.) I would have been a darling of 
a wife don't you think so, Charles ? but they 
wouldn't let me. I am only a bundle of 
emotions ; I have two characters for each day 
of the week. Home became a less thing to me 


than a new part. Charles, if only I could have 
been a nobody. Can't you picture me, such 
a happy, unknown woman, dancing along some 
sandy shore with half a dozen little boys and 
girls hanging on to my skirts ? When my son 
was old enough, wouldn't he and I have made a 
rather pretty picture for the king the day he 
joined his ship. And I think most of all I 
should have loved to deck out my daughter 
in her wedding-gown. 

When her mother tends her before the laughing 

Tying up her laces, looping up her hair 

But the public wouldn't have it, and I had to 
pay the price of my success. 

CHARLES (heart-broken for that wet face). 
Beatrice ! 

MBS. PAGE. I became a harum-scarum, 
Charles ; sometimes very foolish (with a queer 
insight into herself) chiefly through good-nature, 
I think. There were moments when there was 
nothing I wouldn't do, so long as I was all right 
for the play at night. Nothing else seemed to 


matter. I have kicked over all the traces, my 
friend. You remember the Scottish poet who 

Keenly felt the friendly glow 

And softer flame, 
But thoughtless follies laid him low 

And stained his name. 

(Sadly enough) Thoughtless follies laid her low, 
Charles, and stained her name. 

CHARLES (ready to fling down his glove in her 
defence). I don't believe it. No, no, Beatrice 
Mrs. Page 

MRS. PAGE. Ah, it 's Mrs. Page now. 

CHARLES. You are crying. 

MRS. PAGE (with some satisfaction). Yes, I 
am crying. 

CHARLES. This is terrible to me. I never 
dreamt your life was such a tragedy. 

MRS. PAGE (coming to). Don't be so con- 
cerned. I am crying, but all the time I am 
looking at you through the corner of my eye 
to see if I am doing it well. 

CHARLES (hurt). Don't don't. 

MRS. PAGE (well aware that she will always be 
her best audience). Soon I '11 be laughing again. 


When I have cried, Charles, then it is time for 
me to laugh. 

CHARLES. Please, I wish you wouldn't. 

MRS. PAGE (already in the grip of another devil). 
And from all this, Charles, you have so nobly 
offered to save me. You are prepared to take 
me away from this dreadful life and let me 
be my real self. (CHARLES distinctly blanches.) 
Charles, it is dear and kind of you, and I accept 
your offer.' (She gives him a come-and-take-me 
curtsy and awaits his rapturous response. The 
referee counts ten, but CHARLES has not risen from 
the floor. Goose that he is ; she trills with merri- 
ment, though there is a touch of bitterness in it.) 
You see the time for laughing has come already. 
You really thought I wanted you, you conceited 
boy. (Rather grandly) I am not for the likes of 

CHARLES (abject). Don't mock me. I am 
very unhappy. 

MRS. PAGE (putting her hand on his shoulder 
in her dangerous, careless, kindly way). There, 
there, it is just a game. All life 's a game. 

(It is here that the telegram comes. MRS. 


QUICKLY brings it in ; and the better to 
read it, but with a glance at CHARLES to 
observe the effect on him, MRS. PAGE puts 
on her large horn spectacles. He sighs.) 
DAME. Is there any answer ? The girl is 

MRS. PAGE. No answer, thank you. 

(MRS. QUICKLY goes, wondering what those 
two have had to say to each other.) 
CHARLES (glad to be a thousand miles away 
from recent matters). Not bad news, I hope ? 

MRS. PAGE (wiping her spectacles). From my 
manager. It is in cipher, but what it means is 
that the summer play isn't drawing, and that 
they have decided to revive As You Like It. 
They want me back to rehearse to-morrow at 

CHARLES (indignant). They can't even let 
you have a few weeks. 

MRS. PAGE (returning from London). What ? 
Heigho, is it not sad ? But I had been warned 
that this might happen. 

CHARLES (evolving schemes] . Surely if you 

(But she has summoned MRS. QUICKLY.) 


MRS. PAGE (plaintively). Alas, Dame, our 
pleasant gossips have ended for this year. I 
am called back to London hurriedly. 

DAME. Oh dear, the pity ! (She has already 
asked herself what might be in the telegram.) 
Your girl has come back, and she wants you ? 
Is that it ? 

MRS. PAGE. That 's about it. (Her quiet, 
sad manner says that we must all dree our weird.) 
I must go. Have I time to catch the express ? 

CHARLES (dispirited). It leaves at seven. 

MRS. PAGE (bravely). I think I can do it. Is 
that the train you are to take ? 

CHARLES. Yes, but only to the next station. 

MRS. PAGE (grown humble in her misfortune). 
Even for that moment of your company I shall 
be grateful. Dame, this gentleman turns out 
to be a friend of Beatrice. 

DAME. So he said, but I suspicioned him. 

MRS. PAGE. Well, he is. Mr. Roche, this is 
my kind Dame. I must put a few things 

DAME. If I can help 

MRS. PAGE. You can send on my luggage to- 


morrow ; but here is one thing you might do 
now. Run down to the Rectory and tell them 
why I can't be there for the cutting-out. 
DAME. I will. 

MRS. PAGE. I haven't many minutes. Good- 
bye, you dear, for I shall be gone before you get 
back. I '11 write and settle everything. (With 
a last look round) Cosy room ! I have had a 
lovely time. 

(Her face quivers a little f but she does not 

break down. She passes, a courageous 

figure, into the bedroom. The slippers 

plop as she mounts the steps to it. Her 

back looks older than we have seen it ; at 

least such is its intention.) 

DAME (who has learned the usekssness of railing 

against fate). Dearie dear, what a pity. 

CHARLES (less experienced). It 's horrible. 

DAME (wisely turning fate into a gossip). Queer 

to think of a lady like Mrs. Page having a daughter 

that jumps about for a living. (Good God, thinks 

CHARLES, how little this woman knows of life.) 

What I sometimes fear is that the daughter 

doesn't take much care of her. I dare say 


she 's fond of her, but does she do the little kind 
things for her that a lady come Mrs. Page's age 
needs ? 

CHARLES (wincing). She 's not so old. 

DAME (whose mind is probably running on 
breakfast in bed and such-like matters). No, but 
at our age we are fond of of quiet, and I doubt 
she doesn't get it. 

CHARLES. I know she doesn't. 

DAME (stumbling among fine words which 
attract her like a display of drapery). She says 
it 's her right to be out of the hurly-burly and 
into what she calls the delicious twilight of 

CHARLES (with dizzying thoughts in his brain). 
If she is so fond of it, isn't it a shame she, should 
have to give it up ? 

DAME. The living here ? 

CHARLES. Not so much that as being middle- 

DAME. Give up being middle-aged ! How 
could she do that ? 

(He is saved replying by MRS. PAGE, who 
calls from the bedroom.) 


MRS. PAGE. Dame, I hear you talking, and 
you promised to go at once. 

( The DAME apologises, and is off. CHARLES 
is left alone with his great resolve, which 
is no less than to do one of the fine things 
of history. It carries him toward the bed- 
room door, but not quickly ; one can also 
see that it has a rival who is urging him to 
fly the house.) 

CHARLES (with a drum beating inside him). 
Beatrice, I want to speak to you at once. 

MRS. PAGE (through the closed door). As soon 
as I have packed my bag. 

CHARLES (finely). Don't pack it. 
MRS. PAGE. I must. 
CHARLES. I have something to say. 
MRS. PAGE. I can hear you. 
CHARLES (who had been honourably mentioned 
for the school prize poem). Beatrice, until now 
I hadn't really known you at all. The girl I 
was so fond of, there wasn't any such girl. 
MRS. PAGE. Oh yes, indeed there was. 
CHARLES (now in full sail for a hero's crown). 
There was the dear woman who was Rosalind, 


but she had tired of it. Rosalind herself grew 
old and gave up the forest of Arden, but there 
was one man who never forgot the magic of her 
being there ; and I shall never forget yours. 
(Strange that between the beatings of the drum he 
should hear a little voice within him calling, ' Ass, 
Charles, you ass ! ' or words to that effect. But 
he runs nobly on.) My dear, I want to be your 
Orlando to the end. (Surely nothing could be 
grander. He is chagrined to get no response 
beyond what might be the breaking of a string.) 
Do you hear me ? 

MRS. PAGE. Yes. (A brief answer, but he is 
off again.) 

CHARLES. I will take you out of that hurly- 
burly and accompany you into the delicious 
twilight of middle-age. I shall be staid in 
manner so as not to look too young, and I will 
make life easy for you in your declining years. 
(''Ass, Charles, you ass ! ') Beatrice, do come out. 

MRS. PAGE. I am coming now. (She comes 
out carrying her bag.) You naughty Charles, I 
heard you proposing to mamma. 

(The change that has come over her is far 


too subtle to have grown out of a wish to 
surprise him, but its effect on CHARLES is 
as if she had struck him in the face. 

Too subtle also to be only an affair of 
clothes, though she is now in bravery hot 
from Mdme. Make-the-woman, tackle by 
Monsieur, a Rosalind cap jaunty on her 
head, her shoes so small that one wonders if 
she ever has to light a candle to look for her 
feet. She is a tall, slim young creature, 
easily breakable ; svelte is the word that 
encompasses her as we watch the flow of 
her figure, her head arching on its long 
stem, and the erect shoulders that we seem, 
God bless us, to remember as a little hunched. 
Her eyes dance with life but are easily 
startled, because they are looking fresh 
upon the world, wild notes in them as from 
the woods. Not a woman this but a maid, 
or so it seems to CHARLES. 

She has been thinking very little about 
him, but is properly gratified by what she 
reads in his face.) 
Do I surprise you as much as that, Charles ? 


(She puts down her bag, BEATRICE PAGE'S 
famous bag. If you do not know it, you 
do not, alas, know BEATRICE. It is seldom 
out of her hand, save when cavaliers have 
been sent in search of it. She is always 
late for everything except her call, and at 
the last moment she sweeps all that is most 
precious to her into the bag, and runs. 
Jewels ? Oh no, pooh ; letters from no- 
bodies, postal orders for them, a piece of 
cretonne that must match she forgets what, 
bits of string she forgets why, a book given 
her by darling What 's-his-name, a broken 
miniature, part of a watch-chain, a dog's 
collar, such a neat parcel tied with ribbon 
(golden gift or biscuits ? she means to 
find out some day), a purse, but not the 
right one, a bottle of frozen gum, and 
a hundred good-natured, scatter-brained 
things besides. Her servants (who all 
adore her) hate the bag as if it were a little 
dog ; swains hate it because it gets lost 
and has to be found in the middle of a 
declaration ; managers hate it because she 


carries it at rehearsals, when it bursts 
open suddenly like a too tightly laced lady, 
and its contents are strewn on the stage ; 
authors make engaging remarks about it 
until they discover that it has an artful 
trick of bursting because she does not know 
her lines. If you complain, really furious 
this time, she takes you all in her arms. 
Well, well, but what we meant to say was 
that when BEATRICE sees CHARLES'S sur- 
prise she puts down her bag.) 
CHARLES. Good God ! Is there nothing real 

in life ? 

(She curves toward him in one of those 
swallow-flights which will haunt the stage 
long after BEATRICE PAGE is but a memory. 
What they say and how they said it soon 
passes away ; what lives on is the pretty 
movements like BEATRICE'S swallow-flights. 
All else may go, but the pretty movements 
remain and play about the stage for ever. 
They are the only ghosts of the theatre.) 
MRS. PAGE. Heaps of things. Rosalind is 

real, and I am Rosalind ; and the forest of 


Arden is real, and I am going back to it ; and 
cakes and ale are real, and I am to eat and 
drink them again. Everything is real except 

(She puts her hand on his shoulder in the 
old, dangerous, kindly, too friendly way. 
That impulsive trick of yours, madam, 
has a deal to answer for.) 
CHARLES. But you said 

(She flings up her hands in mockery ; 
they are such subtle hands that she can 
stand with her back to you, and, put- 
ting them behind her, let them play the 

MRS. PAGE. I said ! (She is gone from him 
in another flight.) I am Rosalind and I am 
going back. Hold me down, Charles, unless 
you want me to go mad with glee. 

CHARLES (gripping her). I feel as if in the 
room you came out of you have left the woman 
who went into it five minutes ago. 

MRS. PAGE (slipping from him as she slips from 
all of u$). I have, Charles, I have. I left the 
floppy, sloppy old frump in a trunk to be carted 


to the nearest place where they store furniture ; 
and I tell you, my friend (she might have said 
friends, for it is a warning to the Charleses of 
every age), if I had a husband and children I 
would cram them on top of the cart if they 
sought to come between me and Arden. 

CHARLES (with a shiver). Beatrice ! 

MRS. PAGE. The stage is waiting, the audience 
is calling, and up goes the curtain. Oh, my 
public, my little dears, come and foot it again 
in the forest, and tuck away your double 

CHARLES. You said you hated the public. 

MRS. PAGE. It was mamma said that. They 
are my slaves and my playthings, and I toss 
them nuts. (He knows not how she got there, 
but for a moment of time her head caressingly 
skims his shoulder, and she is pouting in his face.) 
Every one forgives me but you, Charles, every 
one but you. 

CHARLES (delirious). Beatrice, you unutter- 
able delight 

MRS. PAGE (worlds away). Don't forgive me 
if you would rather not, 


Here 's a sigh to those who love me, 
And a smile to those who hate. 

CHAKLES (pursuing her). There is no one like 
you on earth, Beatrice. Marry me, marry me 
(as if he could catch her). 

MRS. PAGE (cruelly). As a staff for my de- 
clining years ? 

CHARLES. Forget that rubbish and marry 
me, you darling girl. 

MRS. PAGE. I can't and I won't, but I 'm 
glad I am your darling girl. (Very likely she is 
about to be delightful to him, but suddenly she sees 
her spoil-sport of a bag.) I am trusting to you not 
to let me miss the train. 

CHARLES. I am coming with you all the way 
(as if she needed to be told). We had better be 

MRS. PAGE (seizing the bag). Charles, as we 
run to the station we will stop at every telegraph 
post and carve something sweet on it ' From 
the East to Western Ind ' 

CHARLES (inspired). 4 No jewel is like Rosa- 
lind ' 

MRS. PAGE. ' Middle-age is left behind J 



CHARLES. 4 For ever young is Rosalind.' 
Oh, you dear, Motley 's the only wear. 

MRS. PAGE. And all the way up in the train, 
Charles, you shall woo me exquisitely. Nothing 
will come of it, but you are twenty -three again, 
and you will have a lovely time. 

CHARLES. I '11 win you, I '11 win you. 

MRS. PAGE. And eventually you will marry 
the buxom daughter of the wealthy tallow- 

CHARLES. Never, I swear. 

MRS. PAGE (screwing her nose). And bring 
your children to see me playing the Queen in 

(Here CHARLES ROCHE, bachelor, kisses 
the famous BEATRICE PAGE. Another 
sound is heard.) 

CHARLES. The whistle of the train. 

MRS. PAGE. Away, away ! 'Tis Touchstone 
calling. Fool, I come, I come. (To bedroom 
door) Ta-ta, mamma. 
(They are gone.) 



The scene is any lawyer's office. 

It may be, and no doubt will be, the minute repro- 
duction of some actual office, with all the characteristic 
appurtenances thereof, every blot of ink in its proper 
place ; but for the purpose in hand any bare room 
would do just as well. The only thing essential to 
the room, save the two men sitting in it, is a framed 
engraving on the wall of Queen Victoria, which dates 
sufficiently the opening scene, and will be changed 
presently to King Edward; afterwards to King 
George, to indicate the passing of time. No other 
alteration is called for. Doubtless different furniture 
came in, and the tiling of the fireplace was renewed, 
and at last some one discovered that the flowers in the 
window-box were dead, but all that is as immaterial 
to the action as the new blue-bottles ; the succession of 
monarchs will convey allegorically the one thing 
necessary, that time is passing, but that the office of 
Devizes, Devizes, and Devizes goes on. 

The two men are Devizes Senior and Junior. 



Senior, who is middle-aged, succeeded to a good thing 
years ago, and as the cwrtain rises we see him bent over 
his table making it a better thing. It is pleasant to 
think that before he speaks he adds another thirteen 
and fourpence, say, to the fortune of the firm. 

Junior is quite a gay dog, twenty-three, and we 
catch him skilfully balancing an office ruler on his 
nose. He is recently from Oxford 

If you show him in Hyde Park, lawk, how they will 

Tho' a very smart figure in Bloomsbury Square. 

Perhaps Junior is a smarter figure in the office 
(among the clerks) than he was at Oxford, but this is 
one of the few things about him that his shrewd father 
does not know. 

There comes to them by the only door into the room 
a middle-aged clerk called Surtees, who is perhaps 
worth looking at, though his manner is that of one who 
has long ceased to think of himself as of any import- 
ance to either God or man. Look at him again, 
however (which few would do), and you may guess 
that he has lately had a shock touched a living wire 
and is a little dazed by it. He brings a card to 
Mr. Devizes, Senior, who looks at it and shakes 
his head. 


MR. DEVIZES. ' Mr. Philip Ross.' Don't 
know him. 

SURTEES (who has an expressionless voice). 
He says he wrote you two days ago, sir, explain- 
ing his business. 

MR. DEVIZES. I have had no letter from a 
Philip Ross. 


(He is more interested in his feat with the 
ruler than in a possible client f but SURTEES 
looks at him oddly.) 

MR. DEVIZES. Surtees looks as if he thought 
you had. 

(ROBERT obliges by reflecting in the light 
ofsuRTEEs's countenance.) 
ROBERT. Ah, you think it may have been 
that one, Surty ? 

MR. DEVIZES (sharply). What one ? 
ROBERT. It was the day before yesterday. 
You were out, father, and Surtees brought me 
in some letters. His mouth was wide open. 
(Thoughtfully) I suppose that was why I did it. 
MR. DEVIZES. What did you do ? 
ROBERT. I must have suddenly recalled a 


game we used to play at Oxford. You try to 
fling cards one by one into a hat. It requires 
great skill. So I cast one of the letters at 
Surtees's open mouth, and it missed him and 
went into the fire. It may have been Philip 
Ross's letter. 

MR. DEVIZES (wrinkling his brows). Too bad, 

ROBERT (blandly). Yes, you see I am out of 

SURTEES. He seemed a very nervous person, 
sir, and quite young. Not a gentleman of much 

ROBERT (airily). Why not tell him to write 
again ? 

MR. DEVIZES. Not fair. 

SURTEES. But she 

ROBERT. She ? Who ? 

SURTEES. There is a young lady with him, 
sir. She is crying. 

ROBERT. Pretty ? 

SURTEES. I should say she is pretty, sir, in 
a quite inoffensive way. 

ROBERT (for his own gratification). Ha ! 


MR. DEVIZES. Well, when I ring show them in. 

ROBERT (with roguish finger). And let this 
be a lesson to you, Surty, not to go about your 
business with your mouth open. (SURTEES 
tries to smile as requested, but with poor success.) 
Nothing the matter, Surty ? You seem to 
have lost your sense of humour. 

SURTEES (humbly enough). I 'm afraid I have, 
sir. I never had very much, Mr. Robert. 

(He goes quietly. There has been a sup- 
pressed emotion about him that makes the 
incident poignant.) 

ROBERT. Anything wrong with Surtees, 
father ? 

MR. DEVIZES. Never mind him. I am very 
angry with you, Robert. 

ROBERT (like one conceding a point in a de- 
bating society). And justly. 

MR. DEVIZES (frowning). All we can do is to 
tell this Mr. Ross that we have not read his letter. 

ROBERT (bringing his knowledge of the world 
to bear). Is that necessary ? 

MR. DEVIZES. We must admit that we don't 
know what he has come about. 


EGBERT (tolerant of his father's limitations). 
But don't we ? 


ROBERT. I rather think I can put two and 
two together. 

MR. DEVIZES. Clever boy ! Well, I shall 
leave them to you. 

ROBERT. Right. 

MR. DEVIZES. Your first case, Robert. 

ROBERT (undismayed). It will be as good as 
a play to you to sit there and watch me dis- 
covering before they have been two minutes in 
the room what is the naughty thing that brings 
them here. 

MR. DEVIZES (drily). I am always ready to 
take a lesson from the new generation. But 
of course we old fogies could do that also. 

ROBERT. How ? 

MR. DEVIZES. By asking them. 

ROBERT. Pooh. What did I go to Oxford 

MR. DEVIZES. God knows. Are you ready ? 

ROBERT. Quite. 

(MR. DEVIZES rings.) 


MR. DEVIZES. By the way, we don't know 
the lady's name. 

ROBERT. Observe me finding it out. 
MR. DEVIZES. Is she married or single ? 
ROBERT. I '11 know at a glance. And mark 
me, if she is married it is our nervous gentleman 
who has come between her and her husband ; 
but if she is single it is little Wet Face who has 
come between him and his wife. 
MR. DEVIZES. A Daniel ! 

(A young man and woman are shown in : 
very devoted to each other, though ROBERT 
does not know it. Yet it is the one thing 
obvious about them ; more obvious than 
his cheap suit, which she presses carefully 
beneath the mattress every night, or than 
the strength of his boyish face. Thinking 
of him as he then was by the light of sub- 
sequent events one wonders whether if he 
had come alone his face might have revealed 
something disquieting which was not there 
while she was by. Probably not ; it was 
certainly already there, but had not yet 
reached the surface. With her, too, though 


she is to be what is called changed before 
we see them again, all seems serene ; no 
warning signals ; nothing in the way of 
their happiness in each other but this 
alarming visit to a lawyer's office. The 
stage direction might be ' Enter two lovers' 
He is scarcely the less nervous of the 
two, but he enters stoutly in front of her 
as if to receive the first charge. She 
has probably nodded valiantly to him 
outside the door, where she let go his 

ROBERT (master of the situation). Come in, 
Mr. Ross (and he bows reassuringly to the lady). 
My partner indeed my father. (MR. DEVIZES 
bows but remains in the background.) 

PHILIP (with a gulp). You got my letter ? 
ROBERT. Yes yes. 
PHILIP. I gave you the details in it. 
ROBERT. Yes, I have them all in my head. 
(Cleverly) You will sit down Miss I don't 
think I caught the name. 

(As much as to say, ' You see, father, I 
spotted that she was single at once.') 


MR. DEVIZES (who has also formed his opinion). 
You didn't ask for it, Robert. 

ROBERT (airily). Miss ? 

PHILIP. This is Mrs. Ross, my wife. 

(ROBERT is a little taken aback, and has 
a conviction that his father is smiling.) 

ROBERT. Ah yes, of course ; sit down, 
please, Mrs. Ross. 

(She sits as if this made matters rather 

PHILIP (standing guard by her side). My wife 
is a little agitated. 

ROBERT. Naturally. (He tries a 'feeler.') 
These affairs very painful at the time but one 
gradually forgets. 

EMILY (with large eyes). That is what Mr. 
Ross says, but somehow I can't help (the 
eyes fill). You see, we have been married only 
four months. 

ROBERT. Ah that does make it yes, cer- 
tainly. (He becomes the wife's champion, and 
frowns on PHILIP.) 

PHILIP. I suppose the sum seems very small 
to you ? 


ROBERT (serenely). I confess that is the im- 
pression it makes on me. 

PHILIP. I wish it was more. 

ROBERT (at a venture). You are sure you 
can't make it more ? 

PHILIP. How can I ? 


EMILY (with sudden spirit). I think it 's a 
great deal. 

PHILIP. Mrs. Ross is so nice about it. 

ROBERT (taking a strong line). I think so. 
But she must not be taken advantage of. And 
of course we shall have something to say as to 
the amount. 

PHILIP (blankly). In what way ? There it is. 

ROBERT (guardedly). Hum. Yes, in a sense. 

EMILY (breaking down). Oh dear ! 

ROBERT (more determined than ever to do his 
best for this wronged woman). I am very sorry, 
Mrs. Ross. (Sternly) I hope, sir, you realise 
that the mere publicity to a sensitive woman 

PHILIP. Publicity ? 

ROBERT (feeling that he has got him on the 
run). Of course for her sake we shall try to 


arrange things so that the names do not appear. 

PHILIP. The names ? 

(By this time EMILY is in tears.) 

EMILY. I can't help it. I love him so. 

ROBERT (still benighted). Enough to forgive 
him ? (Seeing himself suddenly as a mediator) 
Mrs. Ross, is it too late to patch things up ? 

PHILIP (now in flame). What do you mean, 

MR. DEVIZES (who has been quietly enjoying 
himself). Yes, Robert, what do you mean 
precisely ? 

ROBERT. Really I (he tries brow-beating) 
I must tell you at once, Mr. Ross, that unless a 
client gives us his fullest confidence we cannot 
undertake a case of this kind. 

PHILIP. A case of what kind, sir ? If you 
are implying anything against my good name 

ROBERT. On your honour, sir, is there nothing 
against it ? 

PHILIP. I know of nothing, sir. 

EMILY. Anything against my husband, Mr. 
Devizes ! He is an angel. 


ROBERT (suddenly seeing that little Wet Face 
must be the culprit). Then it is you ! 

EMILY. Oh, sir, what is me ? 

PHILIP. Answer that, sir. 

ROBERT. Yes, Mr. Ross, I will. (But he 
finds he cannot.) On second thoughts I decline. 
I cannot believe it has been all this lady's fault, 
and I decline to have anything to do with such 
a painful ease. 

MR. DEVIZES (promptly). Then I will take it up. 

PHILIP (not to be placated). I think your son 
has insulted me. 

EMILY. Philip, come away. 

MR. DEVIZES. One moment, please. As I 
did not see your letter, may I ask Mr. Ross what 
is your business with us ? 

PHILIP. I called to ask whether you would 
be so good as to draw up my will. 

ROBERT (blankly). Your will ! Is that all ? 

PHILIP. Certainly. 

MR. DEVIZES. Now we know, Robert. 

ROBERT. But Mrs. Ross's agitation ? 

PHILIP (taking her hand). She feels that to 
make my will brings my death nearer. 


ROBERT. So that 's it ! 

PHILIP. It was all in the letter. 

MR. DEVIZES (coyly). Anything to say, 
Robert ? 

ROBERT. Most ah extremely (He has 
an inspiration.) But even now I 'm puzzled. 
You are Edgar Charles Ross ? 

PHILIP. No, Philip Ross. 

ROBERT (brazenly). Philip Ross ? We have 
made an odd mistake, father. (There is a 
twinkle in MR. DEVIZES' s eye. He watches 
interestedly to see how his son is to emerge from 
the mess.) The fact is, Mrs. Ross, we are ex- 
pecting to-day a Mr. Edgar Charles Ross on a 
matter well of a kind Ah me. (With 
fitting gravity) His wife, in short. 

EMILY (who has not read the newspapers in vain). 
How awful. How sad. 

ROBERT. Sad indeed. You will quite under- 
stand that professional etiquette prevents my 
saying one word more. ' 

PHILIP. Yes, of course we have no desire 
But I did write. 

ROBERT. Assuredly. But about a will. 


That is my father's department. No doubt 
you recall the letter now, father ? 

MR. DEVIZES (who if he won't hinder won't help). 
I can't say I do. 

ROBERT (unabashed). Odd. You must have 
overlooked it. 

MR. DEVIZES. Ha. At all events, Mr. Ross, 
I am quite at your service now. 

PHILIP. Thank you. 

ROBERT (stiU ready to sacrifice himself on the 
call of duty). You don't need me any more, 
father ? 

MR. DEVIZES. No, Robert ; many thanks. 
You run off to your club now and have a bit of 
lunch. You must be tired. Send Surtees in to 
me. (To his clients) My son had his first case 

PHILIP (politely). I hope successfully. 

MR. DEVIZES. Not so bad. He rather bungled 
it at first, but he got out of a hole rather cleverly. 
I think you '11 make a lawyer yet, Robert. 

ROBERT. Thank you, father. (He goes 
jauntily, with a flower in his button-hole.) 

MR. DEVIZES. Now, Mr. Ross. 


(The young wife's hand goes out for com- 
fort and finds PHILIP'S waiting for it.) 

PHILIP. What I want myself is that the 
will should all go into one sentence, ' I leave 
everything of which I die possessed to my 
beloved wife.' 

MR. DEVIZES (thawing to the romance of this 
young couple). Well, there have been many 
worse wills than that, sir. 
(EMILY is emotional.) 

PHILIP. Don't give way, Emily. 

EMILY. It was those words, ' of which I die 
possessed.' (Imploring) Surely he doesn't need 
to say that please, Mr. Devizes ? 

ME. DEVIZES. Certainly not. I am confident 
I can draw up the will without mentioning 
death at all. 

EMILY (huskily). Oh, thank you. 

MR. DEVIZES. At the same time, of course, 
in a legal document in which the widow is the 

(EMILY again needs attention.) 
PHILIP (reproachfully). What was the need 
of saying ' widow ' ? 


MR. DEVIZES. I beg your pardon, Mrs. Ross. 
I unreservedly withdraw the word ' widow.' 
Forgive a stupid old solicitor. (She smiles 
gratefully through her tears. SURTEES comes 
in.) Surtees, just take a few notes, please. 
(SURTEES sits in the background and takes notes.) 
The facts of the case as I understand, Mrs. Ross, 
are these : Your husband (Quickly) who is in 
the prime of health but knows life to be 

EMILY. Oh ! 

MR. DEVIZES. though usually, as we learn 
from holy script itself, it lasts seven times 
ten years and believing that he will in all 
probability live the allotted span, nevertheless, 
because of his love of you, thinks it judicious 
to go through the form it is a mere form of 
making a will. 

EMILY (fervently). Oh, thank you. 

MR. DEVIZES. Any details, Mr. Ross ? 

PHILIP. I am an orphan. I live at Belvedere, 
14 Tulphin Road, Hammersmith. 

EMILY (to whom the address has a seductive 
sound). We live there. 


PHILIP. And I am a clerk in the employ of 
Curar and Gow, the foreign coaling agents. 

MR. DEVIZES. Yes, yes. Any private in- 
come ? 

(They cannot help sniggering a little at the 
quaint question.) 

PHILIP. Oh no ! 

MR. DEVIZES. I see it will be quite a brief 

PHILIP (to whom the remark sounds scarcely 
worthy of a great occasion). My income is a 
biggish one. 


EMILY (important). He has 170 a year. 


PHILIP. I began at 60. But it is going up, 
Mr. Devizes, by leaps and bounds. Another 
15 this year. 


PHILIP (darkly). I have a certain ambition. 

EMILY (eagerly). Tell him, Philip. 

PHILIP (with a big breath). We have made 
up our minds to come to 365 a year before I 


EMILY. That is a pound a day. 

MB. DEVIZES (smiling sympathetically on them). 
So it is. My best wishes. 

PHILIP. Thank you. Of course the furnish- 
ing took a good deal. 

MR. DEVIZES. It Would. 

EMILY. He insisted on my having the very 
best. (She ceases. She is probably thinking 
of her superb spare bedroom.) 

PHILIP. But we are not a penny in debt ; 
and I have 200 saved. 

MR. DEVIZES. I think you have made a brave 

EMILY. They have the highest opinion of 
him in the office. 

PHILIP. Then I am insured for 500. 

MR. DEVIZES. I am glad to hear that. 

PHILIP. Of course I would like to leave her 
a house in Kensington and a carriage and pair. 

MR. DEVIZES. Who knows, perhaps you will. 

EMILY. Oh ! 

MR. DEVIZES. Forgive me. 

EMILY. What would houses and horses be 
to me without him ? 


MK. DEVIZES (soothingly). Quite so. What 
I take Mr. Ross to mean is that when he dies 
if he ever should die everything is to go to 
his his spouse. 

PHILIP (dogged). Yes. 

EMILY (dogged). No. 

PHILIP (sighing). This is the only difference 
we have ever had. Mrs. Ross insists on certain 
bequests. You see, I have two cousins, ladies, 
not well off, whom I have been in the way of 
helping a little. But in my will, how can I ? 

MR. DEVIZES. You must think first of your 

PHILIP. But she insists on my leaving 50 
to each of them. 

(He looks appealingly to his wife.) 

EMILY (grandly). 100. 

PHILIP. 50. 

EMILY. Dear, 100. 

MR. DEVIZES. Let us say 75. 

PHILIP (reluctantly). Very well. 

EMILY. No, 100. 

PHILIP. She '11 have to get her way. Here 
are their names and addresses. 


MR. DEVIZES. Anything else ? 

PHILIP (hurriedly). No. 

EMILY. The convalescent home, dear. He 
was in it a year ago, and they were so kind. 

PHILIP. Yes, but 

EMILY. 10. (He has to yield, with a re- 
proachful, admiring look.) 

MR. DEVIZES. Then if that is all, I won't 
detain you. If you look in to-morrow, Mr. Ross, 
about this time, we shall have everything ready 
for you, 

(Their faces fall.) 

EMILY. Oh, Mr. Devizes, if only it could all 
be drawn up now, and done with. 

PHILIP. You see, sir, we are screwed up to 
it to-day. 

(' Our fate is in your hands,' they might 
be saying, and the lawyer smiles to find 
himself such a power.) 

MR. DEVIZES (looking at his watch). Well, it 
certainly need not take long. You go out and 
have lunch somewhere, and then come back. 

EMILY. Oh, don't ask me to eat. 

PHILIP. We are too excited. 


EMILY. Please may we just walk about the 
street ? 

ME. DEVIZES (smiling). Of course you may, 
you ridiculous young wife. 

EMILY. I know it 's ridiculous of me, but 
I am so fond of him. 

MK. DEVIZES. Yes, it is ridiculous. (Kindly, 
and with almost a warning note) But don't 
change ; especially if you get on in the world, 
Mr. Ross. 

PHILIP. No fear ! 

EMILY (backing from the will, which may now 
be said to be in existence). And please don't 
give us a copy of it to keep. I would rather 
not have it in the house. 

MR. DEVIZES (nodding reassuringly). In an 
hour's time. (They go, and the lawyer has his 
lunch, which is simpler than ROBERT'S : a sand- 
wich and a glass of wine. He speaks as he eats.) 
You will get that ready, Surtees. Here are 
the names and addresses he left. (Cheerily) A 
nice couple. 

SURTEES (who is hearing another voice). Yes, 


MR. DEVIZES (unbending). Little romance of 
its kind. Makes one feel quite gay. 

SURTEES. Yes, sir. 

MR. DEVIZES (struck perhaps by the deadness 
of his voice). You don't look very gay, Surtees. 

SURTEES. I 'm sorry, sir. We can't all be 
gay. (He is going out without looking at his 
employer.) I '11 see to this, sir. 

MR. DEVIZES. Stop a minute. Is there any- 
thing wrong ? (SURTEES has difficulty in answer- 
ing, and MR. DEVIZES goes to him kindly.) Not 
worrying over that matter we spoke about ? 
(SURTEES inclines his head.) Is the pain worse ? 

SURTEES. It 's no great pain, sir. 

MR. DEVIZES (uncomfortably). I 'm sure it 's 
not what you fear. Any specialist would tell 
you so. 

SURTEES (without looking up). I have been 
to one, sir yesterday. 

MR. DEVIZES. Well ? 

SURTEES. It 's that, sir. 

MR. DEVIZES. He couldn't be sure. 

SURTEES. Yes, sir. 

MR. DEVIZES. An operation 


SURTEES. Too late, he said, for that. If I 
had been operated on long ago there might 
have been a chance. 

MR. DEVIZES. But you didn't have it long 

SURTEES. Not to my knowledge, sir ; but 
he says it was there all the same, always in me, 
a black spot, not so big as a pin's head, but 
waiting to spread and destroy me in the fulness 
of time. All the rest of me as sound as a bell. 
(That is the voice that SURTEES has been hearing.) 

MR. DEVIZES (helpless). It seems damnably 

SURTEES (humbly). I don't know, sir. He 
says there 's a spot of that kind in pretty nigh 
all of us, and if we don't look out it does for us 
in the end. 

MR. DEVIZES (hurriedly). No, no, no. 

SURTEES. He called it the accursed thing. 
I think he meant we should know of it and be 
on the watch. (He pulls himself together.) I '11 
see to this at once, sir. 

(He goes out. MR. DEVIZES continues his 


The curtain falls here for a moment only, 
to indicate the passing of a number of 
years. When it rises we see that the en- 
graving of Queen Victoria has given way 
to one of King Edward. 

ROBERT is discovered, immersed in 
affairs. He is now a middle-aged man 
who has long forgotten how to fling cards 
into a hat. To him comes SENNET, a 
brisk clerk.) 

SENNET. Mrs. Philip Ross to see you, sir. 
ROBERT. Mr. Ross, don't you mean, Sennet ? 
SENNET. No, sir. 

ROBERT. Ha. It was Mr. Ross I was ex- 
pecting. Show her in. (Frowning) And, Sennet, 
less row in the office, if you please. 

SENNET (glibly). It was those young clerks, 


ROBERT. They mustn't be young here, or 
they go. Tell them that. 

SENNET (glad to be gone). Yes, sir. 

(He shows in MRS. ROSS. We have not 
seen her for twenty years and would certainly 
not recognise her in the street. So shrinking 


her first entrance into this room, but she 
sails in now like a galleon. She is not so 
much dressed as richly upholstered. She 
is very sure of herself. Yet she is not a 
different woman from the EMILY we re- 
member ; the pity of it is that somehow 
this is the same woman.) 
ROBERT (who makes much of his important 
visitor and is also wondering why she has come). 
This is a delightful surprise, Mrs. Ross. Allow 
me. (He removes her fine cloak with proper 
solicitude, and EMILY walks out of it in the manner 
that makes it worth possessing.) This chair, alas, 
is the best I can offer you. 

EMILY (who is still a good-natured woman if 
you attempt no nonsense with her). It will do 
quite well. 

ROBERT (gallantly). Honoured to see you in it. 
EMILY (smartly). Not you. You were saying 
to yourself, ' Now, what brings the woman 
here ? ' 

ROBERT. Honestly, I 

EMILY. And I '11 tell you. You are expect- 
ing Mr. Ross, I think ? 


ROBERT (cautiously). Well ah 

EMILY. Pooh. The cunning of you lawyers. 
I know he has an appointment with you, and 
that is why I 've come. 

ROBERT. He arranged with you to meet him 

EMILY (preening herself). I wouldn't say that. 
I don't know that he will be specially pleased 
to find me here when he comes. 

ROBERT (guardedly). Oh ? 

EMILY (who is now a woman that goes straight 
to her goal). I know what he is coming about. 
To make a new will. 

ROBERT (admitting it). After all, not the first 
he has made with us, Mrs. Ross. 

EMILY (promptly). No, the fourth. 

ROBERT (warming his hands at the thought). 
Such a wonderful career. He goes from success 
to success. 

EMILY (complacently). Yes, we 're big folk. 

ROBERT. You are indeed. 

EMILY (sharply). But the last will covered 

ROBERT (on guard again). Of course it is a 


matter I cannot well discuss even with you. 
And I know nothing of his intentions. 
EMILY. Well, I suspect some of them. 

EMILY. And that 's why I 'm here. Just 
to see that he does nothing foolish. 

(She settles herself more comfortably as 
MR. ROSS is announced. A city magnate 
walks in. You know he is that before you 
see that he is PHILIP ROSS.) 
PHILIP (speaking as he enters). How do, 
Devizes, how do. Well, let us get at this 
thing at once. Time is money, you know, 
time is money. (Then he sees his wife.) Hello, 

EMILY (unperturbed). You didn't ask me to 
come, Philip, but I thought I might as well. 
PHILIP. That 's all right. 

(His brow had lowered at first sight of her, 
but now he gives her cleverness a grin of 

EMILY. It is the first will you have made 
without taking me into your confidence. 

PHILIP. No important changes. I just 


thought to save you the unpleasantness of 
the thing. 

EMILY. How do you mean ? 

PHILIP (fidgeting). Well, one can't draw up 
a will without feeling for the moment that he 
is bringing his end nearer. Is that not so, 
Devizes ? 

ROBERT (who will quite possibly die intestate). 
Some do have that feeling. 

EMILY. But what nonsense. How can it 
have any effect of that kind one way or the 
other ? 

ROBERT. Quite so. 

EMILY (reprovingly). Just silly sentiment, 
Philip. I would have thought it would be a 
pleasure to you, handling such a big sum. 

PHILIP (wincing). Not handling it, giving it 

EMILY. To those you love. 

PHILIP (rather shortly). I 'm not giving it 
up yet. You talk as if I was on my last legs. 

EMILY (imperturbably). Not at all. It 's you 
that are doing that. 

ROBERT (to the rescue). Here is my copy of 


the last will. I don't know if you would like 
me to read it out ? 

PHILIP. It 's hardly necessary. 

EMILY. We have our own copy at home and 
we know it well. 

PHILIP (sitting back in his chair). What do 
you think I 'm worth to-day, Devizes ? 

(Every one smiles. It is as if the sun had 
peeped in at the window.) 

ROBERT. I daren't guess. 

PHILIP. An easy seventy thou. 

EMILY. And that 's not counting the house 
and the country cottage. We call it a cottage. 
You should see it I 

ROBERT. I have heard of it. 

EMILY (more sharply, though the sun still 
shines). Well, go on, Philip. I suppose you 
are not thinking of cutting me out of anything. 

PHILIP (heartily). Of course not. There will 
be more to you than ever. 

EMILY (coolly). There 's more to leave. 

PHILIP (hesitating). At the same time 

EMILY. Well ? It 's to be mine absolutely, 
of course. Not just a life interest. 


PHILIP (doggedly). That is a change I was 
thinking of. 

EMILY. Just what I have suspected for days. 
Will you please to say why ? 

ROBERT (whose client after all is the man). Of 
course it is quite common. 

EMILY. I didn't think my husband was quite 

ROBERT. I only mean that as there are 

PHILIP. That 's what I mean too. 

EMILY. And I can't be trusted to leave my 
money to my own children ! In what way 
have I ever failed them before ? 

PHILIP (believing it too). Never, Emily, never. 
A more devoted mother If you have one 
failing it is that you spoil them. 

EMILY. Then what 's your reason ? 

PHILIP (less sincerely). Just to save you 
worry when I 'm gone. 

EMILY. It 's no worry to me to look after 
my money. 

PHILIP (bridling). After all, it's my 


EMILY. I knew that was what was at the 
back of your mind. 

PHILIP (reverently). It 's such a great sum. 

EMILY. One would think you were afraid I 
would marry again. 

PHILIP (snapping). One would think you 
looked to my dying next week. 

EMILY. Tuts. 

(PHILIP is unable to sit still.) 

PHILIP. My money. If you were to invest 
it badly and lose it ! I tell you, Devizes, I 
couldn't lie quiet in my grave if I thought my 
money was lost by injudicious investments. 

EMILY (coldly). You are thinking of yourself, 
Philip, rather than of the children. 

PHILIP. Not at all. 

ROBERT (hastily). How are the two children ? 

EMILY. Though I say it myself, there never 
were better. Harry is at Eton, you know, the 
most fashionable school in the country. 

ROBERT. Doing well, I hope ? 

PHILIP (chuckling). We have the most 
gratifying letters from him. Last Saturday 
he was caught smoking cigarettes with a 


lord. (With pardonabk pride) They were sick 

ROBERT. And Miss Gwendolen ? She must 
be almost grown up now. 

(The parents exchange important glances.) 

EMILY. Should we tell him ? 

PHILIP. Under the rose, you know, Devizes. 

ROBERT. Am I to congratulate her ? 

EMILY. No names, Philip. 

PHILIP. No, no names but she won't be a 
plain Mrs., no sir. 

ROBERT. Well done, Miss Gwendolen. (With 
fitting jocularity) Now I see why you want a 
new will. 

PHILIP. Yes, that 's my main reason, 

EMILY. But none of your life interests for 
me, Philip. 

PHILIP (shying). We '11 talk that over pre- 

ROBERT. Will you keep the legacies as they 

PHILIP. Well, there 's that 500 for the 


EMILY. Yes, with so many claims on us, is 
that necessary ? 

PHILIP (becoming stouter). I 'm going to make 
it 1000. 

EMILY. Philip ! 

PHILIP. My mind is made up. I want to 
make a splash with the hospitals. 

ROBERT (hurrying to the next item). There is 
50 a year each to two cousins, ladies. 

PHILIP. I suppose we '11 keep that as it is, 
Emily ? 

EMILY. It was just gifts to them of 100 
each at first. 

PHILIP. I was poor at that time myself. 

EMILY. Do you think it 's wise to load them 
with so much money ? They '11 not know what 
to do with it. 

PHILIP. They 're old. 

EMILY. But they 're wiry. 75 a year be- 
tween them would surely be enough. 

PHILIP. It would be if they lived together, 
but you see they don't. They hate each other 
like cat and dog. 

EMILY. That 's not nice between relatives. 


You could leave it to them on condition that 
they do live together. That would be a Chris- 
tian action. 

PHILIP. There 's something in that. 

ROBERT. Then the chief matter is whether 
Mrs. Ross 

EMILY. Oh, I thought that was settled. 

PHILIP (with a sigh). I '11 have to give in to 
her, sir. 

ROBERT. Very well. I suppose my father 
will want to draw up the will. I 'm sorry he 
had to be in the country to-day. 

EMILY (affable now that she has gained her 
point). I hope he is wearing well ? 

ROBERT. Wonderfully. He is away playing 

PHILIP (grinning). Golf. I have no time for 
games. (Considerately) But he must get the 
drawing up of my will. I couldn't deprive the 
old man of that. 

ROBERT. He will be proud to do it again. 

PHILIP (well satisfied). Ah ! There 's many 
a one would like to look over your father's 
shoulder when he 's drawing up my will. I 


wonder what I '11 cut up for in the end. But 
I must be going. 

EMILY. Can I drop you anywhere ? I have 
the greys out. 

PHILIP. Yes, at the club. 

(Now MRS. ROSS walks into her cloak.) 
Good-day, Devizes. I won't have time to look 
in again, so tell the old man to come to me. 

ROBERT (deferentially). Whatever suits you 
best. (Ringing.) He will be delighted. I 
remember his saying to me on the day you made 
your first will 

PHILIP (chuckling). A poor little affair that. 

ROBERT. He said to me you were a couple 
whose life looked like being a romance. 

PHILIP. And he was right eh, Emily ? 
though he little thought what a romance. 

EMILY. No, he little thought what a romance. 
(They make a happy departure, and 
ROBERT is left reflecting.) 

The curtain again falls, and rises im- 
mediately, as the engraving shows, on the 
same office in the reign of King George. 


It is a foggy morning and a fire burns 
briskly. MR. DEVIZES, SENIOR, arrives for 
the day's work just as he came daily for 
over half a century. But he has no right 
to be here now. A year or two ago they 
got him to retire, as he was grown feeble ; 
and there is an understanding that he does 
not go out of his house alone. He has, as 
it were, escaped to-day, and his feet have 
carried him to the old office that is the home 
of his mind. He was almost portly when 
we saw him first, but he has become little 
again and as light as the schoolboy whose 
deeds are nearer to him than many of the 
events of later years. He arrives at the 
office, thinking it is old times, and a clerk 
surveys him uncomfortably from the door. 

CREED (not quite knowing what to do). Mr. 
Devizes has not come in yet, sir. 

MR. DEVIZES (considering). Yes, I have. Do 
you mean Mr. Robert ? 

CREED. Yes, sir. 

MR. DEVIZES (querulously). Always late. 


Can't get that boy to settle down. (Leniently) 
Well, well, boys will be boys eh, Surtees ? 

CREED (wishing MR. ROBERT would come). 
My name is Creed, sir. 

MR. DEVIZES (sharply). Creed ? Don't know 
you. Where is Surtees ? 

CREED. There is no one of that name in the 
office, sir. 

MR. DEVIZES (growing timid). No ? I re- 
member now. Poor Surtees ! (But his mind 
cannot grapple with troubles.) Tell him I want 
him when he comes in. 

(He is changing, after his old custom, into 
an office coat.) 

CREED. That is Mr. Dev Mr. Robert's coat, 

MR. DEVIZES. He has no business to hang 
it there. That is my nail. 

CREED. He has hung it there for years, sir. 

MR. DEVIZES. Not at all. I must have it. 
Why does Surtees let him do it ? Help me into 
my office coat, boy. 

(CREED helps him into the coat he has 
taken off, and the old man is content.) 


CREED (seeing him lift up the correspondence). 
I don't think Mr. Devizes would like you to 
open the office letters, sir. 

MR. DEVIZES (pettishly). What 's that ? Go 
away, boy. Send Surtees. 

(To the relief of CREED, ROBERT arrives, 
and, taking in the situation, signs to the 
clerk to go. He has a more youthful 
manner than when last we saw him has 
ROBERT, but his hair is iron grey. He is 
kindly to his father.) 
ROBERT. You here, father ? 
MR. DEVIZES (after staring at him). Yes, you 
are Robert. (A little frightened.) You are an 
old man, Robert. 

ROBERT (without wincing). Getting on, father. 
But why did they let you come ? You haven't 
been here for years. 

MR. DEVIZES (puzzled). Years ? I think I 
just came in the old way, Robert, without 

ROBERT. Yes, yes. I '11 get some one to go 
home with you. 

MR. DEVIZES (rather abject). Let me stay, 


Robert. I like being here. I won't dis- 
turb you. I like the smell of the office, 

ROBERT. Of course you may stay. Come 
over to the fire. (He settles Ms father by the 
fire in the one arm-chair.) There ; you can have 
a doze by the fire. 


MR. DEVIZES. A doze by the fire. That is 
all 1 5 m good for now. Once but my son hangs 
his coat there now. (Then he looks up fearfully .) 
Robert, tell me something in a whisper : Is 
Surtees dead ? 

ROBERT (who has forgotten the name). Surtees ? 

MR. DEVIZES. My clerk, you know. 

ROBERT. Oh, why, he has been dead this 
thirty years, father. 

MR. DEVIZES. So long. Seems like yesterday. 

ROBERT. It is just far back times that seem 
clear to you now. 

MR. DEVIZES (meekly). Is it ? 

(ROBERT opens his letter s, and his father 
falls asleep. CREED comes.) 

CREED. Sir Philip Ross. 

(The great SIR PHILIP enters, nearly sixty 


now, strong of frame still, but a lost man. 
He is in mourning, and carries the broken 
pieces of his life with an air of braggadocio. 
It should be understood that he is not a 
1 sympathetic ' part, and any actor who 
plays him as such will be rolling the play 
in the gutter.) 

ROBERT (on his feet at once to greet such a 
client). You, Sir Philip ? 

PHILIP (head erect). Here I am. 
ROBERT (because it will out). How are you ? 
PHILIP (as if challenged). I 'm all right 
great. (With defiant jocularity) Called on the 
old business. 

ROBERT. To make another will ? 
PHILIP. You 've guessed it the very first 
time. (He sees the figure by the fire.) 

ROBERT. Yes, it 's my father. He 's dozing. 
Shouldn't be here at all. He forgets things. 
It 's just age. 

PHILIP (grimly). Forgets things. That must 
be fine. 

ROBERT (conventionally). I should like, Sir 
Philip, to offer you my sincere condolences. In 


the midst of life we are How true that is. 
I attended the funeral. 

PHILIP. I saw you. 

ROBERT. A much esteemed lady. I had a 
great respect for her. 

PHILIP (almost with relish). Do you mind, 
when we used to come here about the will, 
somehow she we always took for granted I 
should be the first to go ? 

ROBERT (devoutly). These things are hid 
from mortal eyes. 

PHILIP (with conviction). There 's a lot hid. 
We needn't have worried so much about the 
will if well, let us get at it. (Fiercely) I haven't 
given in, you know. 

ROBERT. We must bow our heads 

PHILIP. Must we ? Am I bowing mine ? 

ROBERT (uncomfortably). Such courage in 
the great hour yes and I am sure Lady 

PHILIP (with the ugly humour that has come to 
him). She wasn't that. 

ROBERT. The honour came so soon after- 
wards I feel she would like to be thought of 


as Lady Ross. I shall always remember her 
as a fine lady richly dressed who used 

PHILIP (harshly). Stop it. That 's not how 
I think of her. There was a time before that 
she wasn't richly dressed (he stamps upon his 
memories). Things went wrong, I don't know 
how. It 's a beast of a world. I didn't come 
here to talk about that. Let us get to work. 

ROBERT (turning with relief from the cemetery). 
Yes, yes, and after all life has its compensations. 
You have your son who 

PHILIP (snapping). No, I haven't. (This 
startles the lawyer.) I 'm done with him. 

ROBERT. -If he has been foolish 

PHILIP. Foolish ! (Some dignity comes into 
the man.) Sir, I have come to a pass when 
foolish as applied to my own son would seem 
to me a very pretty word. 

ROBERT. Is it as bad as that ? 

PHILIP. He 's a rotter. 

ROBERT. It is very painful to me to hear 
you say that. 

PHILIP. More painful, think you, than for 
me to say it ? (Clenching his fists) But I 've 

THE WIL-L 175 

shipped him off. The law had to wink at it, 
or I couldn't have done it. Why don't you 
say I pampered him and it serves me right ? 
It 's what they are all saying behind my back. 
Why don't you ask me about my girl ? That 's 
another way to rub it in. 

ROBERT. Don't, Sir Philip. I knew about 
her. My sympathy 

PHILIP. A chauffeur ! that is what he was. 
The man who drove her own car. 

ROBERT. I was deeply concerned 

PHILIP. I want nobody's pity. I 've done 
with both of them, and if you think I 'm a 
broken man you 're much mistaken. I '11 show 
them. Have you your papers there ? Then 
take down my last will. I have everything in 
my head. I '11 show them. 

ROBERT. Would it not be better to wait till 
a calmer 

PHILIP. Will you do it now, or am I to go 
across the street ? 

ROBERT. If I must. 

PHILIP. Then down with it. (He wets his 
?.) I, Philip Ross, of 77 Bath Street, W., 


do hereby revoke all former wills and testa- 
ments, and I leave everything of which I die 

ROBERT. Yes ? 

PHILIP. Everything of which I die possessed 

ROBERT. Yes ? 

PHILIP. I leave it I leave it (The game 
is up.) My God, Devizes, I don't know what 
to do with it. 

ROBERT. I I really come 

PHILIP (cynically). Can't you make any sug- 
gestions ? 

ROBERT. Those cousins are dead, I think ? 

PHILIP. Years ago. 

ROBERT (troubled). In the case of such a large 

PHILIP (letting all his hoarded gold run through 
his fingers). The money I 've won with my 
blood. God in heaven. (Showing his teeth.) 
Would that old man like it to play with ? If 
I bring it to you in sacks, will you fling it out of 
the window for me ? 

ROBERT. Sir Philip ! 

PHILIP (taking a paper from his pocket) Here, 


take this. It has the names and addresses of 
the half-dozen men I 've fought with most for 
gold ; and I Ve beaten them. Draw up a will 
leaving all my money to be divided between 
them, with my respectful curses, and bring it 
to my house and I '11 sign it. 

ROBERT (properly shocked). But really I can't 

PHILIP. Either you or another ; is it to be 

ROBERT. Very well. 

PHILIP. Then that 's settled. (He rises with 
an ugly laugh. He regards MR. DEVIZES quizzi- 
cally.) So you weren't in at the last will after 
all, old Sleep by the Fire. 

(To their surprise the old man stirs.) 

MR. DEVIZES. What 's that about a will ? 

ROBERT. You are awake, father ? 

MR. DEVIZES (whose eyes have opened on PHILIP'S 
face). I don't know you, sir. 

ROBERT. Yes, yes, father, you remember 
Mr. Ross. He is Sir Philip now. 

MR. DEVIZES (courteously). Sir Philip ? I 
wish you joy, sir, but I don't know you. 



ROBERT (encouragingly). Ross, father. 

MR. DEVIZES. I knew a Mr. Ross long ago. 

ROBERT. This is the same. 

MR. DEVIZES (annoyed). No, no. A bright 
young fellow he was, with such a dear, pretty 
wife. They came to make a will. (He chuckles.) 
And bless me, they had only twopence halfpenny. 
I took a fancy to them ; such a happy pair. 

ROBERT (apologetically). The past is clearer 
to him than the present nowadays. That will 
do, father. 

PHILIP (brusquely). Let him go on. 

MR. DEVIZES. Poor souls, it all ended un- 
happily, you know. 

PHILIP (who is not brusque to him). Yes, I 
know. Why did things go wrong, sir ? I sit 
and wonder, and I can't find the beginning. 

MR. DEVIZES. That 's the sad part of it. 
There was never a beginning. It was always 
there. He told me all about it. 

ROBERT. He is thinking of something else ; 
I don't know what. 

PHILIP. Quiet. What was it that was always 
there ? 


MR. DEVIZES. It was always in them & spot 
no bigger than a pin's head, but waiting to 
spread and destroy them in the fulness of time. 

ROBERT. I don't know what he has got hold 

PHILIP. He knows. Could they have done 
anything to prevent it, sir ? 

MR. DEVIZES. If they had been on the watch. 
But they didn't know, so they weren't on the 
watch. Poor souls. 

PHILIP. Poor souls. 

MR. DEVIZES. It 's called the accursed thing. 
It gets nearly everybody in the end, if they 
don't look out. 

(He sinks back into his chair and forgets 

ROBERT. He is just wandering. 

PHILIP. The old man knows. 

(He slowly tears up the paper he had given 


ROBERT (relieved). I am glad to see you do 

PHILIP. A spot no bigger than a pin's head. 
(A wish wells up in him, too late perhaps.) I 


wish I could help some young things before 
that spot has time to spread and destroy them 
as it has destroyed me and mine. 

ROBERT (brightly). With such a large for- 

PHILIP (summing up his life). It can't be 
done with money, sir. 

(He goes away ; God knows where.) 

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